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New Cannabis NB stores to market weed for different ‘occasions’

Hip, monochromatic colour palette with tasteful pops of green. Photo murals of local landmarks. Faux succulents and wheatgrass. Dozens of shiny screens.

Cannabis NB locations will look more like high-end electronics stores than the places that New Brunswickers fond of weed are used to buying it — and the bud will be categorized according to what you plan to do once you’re high. 

‘I think this is the first government cannabis store in the world,’ said Brian Harriman, president and CEO of Alcool NB Liquor and Cannabis New Brunswick. (Julia Wright / CBC)

On Tuesday, the Cannabis NB location at 87 Lansdowne Ave. in Saint John provided a first in-person glimpse of what a government-run cannabis store will look like. 

“This is the first government cannabis store in the world,” said Brian Harriman, president and CEO of Alcool NB Liquor and Cannabis NB.

“We’re the first jurisdiction in Canada that’s ready for recreational cannabis.

“It’s bright, it’s clean, it’s modern, and it will certainly help us deliver our mandate.”

A chic Cannabis NB waiting room. Customers will be provided with tablets they can use to peruse the selection of products, Harriman said. (Julia Wright /CBC )

Risotto, ‘video chatting,’ self-help books

Cannabis will be organized into three different categories, or “occasions.” 

The three product groups — Discover, Connect and Refresh — are outlined in detail in a promotional brochure.

Products under the “Discover” category are aimed toward “those wanting to ‘do’ …. Whether you want to unlock creativity while painting, need motivation to get writing, or to perfect your recipe for risotto — these products are made for these occasions.”

The store at 87 Lansdowne Ave. in Saint John is the first government cannabis store to be unveiled in Canada, according to Cannabis NB. (Julia Wright / CBC)

Products in the Connect category are best enjoyed at “the weekly poker game, girls’ night out, or a concert with the whole group. It could even be video chatting with your friends from the comfort of your own home.”

Customers looking to unwind might prefer the Refresh category, geared toward “relaxing at home with your spouse catching up on [the] latest TV series, or it could be reading your favourite self-help book or magazine. Regardless of how you ‘chill’ and enjoy downtime, these products are meant to put your mind at ease and soothe the soul.”

Harriman compared the system to what “you’d see in a bookstore: ‘If you liked this, try this.’

“It’s a way for us to guide people through the process.”

Yes to ID. No to photos.

When customers walk into the store, “they’ll be checked for ID at the window,” Harriman said.

No one under the age of 19 will be allowed in the building.

Unlike many black-market dispensaries operating in the province, Cannabis NB will not keep customer names or details on file.

The staff of Cannabis NB retail locations, referred to as ‘guides,’ will each receive 100 hours of training. Each retail location will have about eight employees, job descriptions for which have already been posted online. (Julia Wright / CBC)

“It’s completely confidential,” Harriman said. “It’s not anything we’re tracking or record-keeping in any of our stores, to see who’s coming in. It’s completely anonymous.”

No photography will be allowed inside the stores for security reasons. Home delivery — and eventually an “express window,” where customers can pick up online orders after showing ID — will also be available.

Beyond the window is a reception area, “where people can sit and learn,” Harriman said. “We’ll have tablets there where people can do some product knowledge research and learn a bit on their own.”

Personal shopping experience

In the main retail area, customers can receive a “guided personal shopping experience” from eight staff members, each of whom will receive 100 hours of training before being sent out onto the sales floor — two modules on retail customer service and two on product knowledge from Canopy Growth Corp.

The proposed laws are strict on plain packaging with prominently displayed warning labels. (Health Canada)

“When you package all that together, we should be able to deliver a great, responsible shopping experience,” Harriman said.  

Edibles will eventually be displayed in cases on the retail floor, with dried flower and oils under the cases, and accessories displayed on shelves behind the counter.

While the retail jobs have been posted online, Harriman said, Cannabis NB hasn’t yet started hiring.

Tight security, smell-proofing

Some 250 different products will be carried at Cannabis NB stores.

Only dried bud and oil will be available, Harriman said, during the first phase of legalization.

Federal regulations haven’t yet been finalized to provide for the sale of concentrates or edibles, although those rules are expected to be made final within 12 months of legalization.

As soon as the federal government makes a decision on its mandate, “we’ll expand and grow with that,” Harriman said.

The stores are built to accommodate up to 800 different products.

With all that cannabis on site, Harriman said, security is paramount.

“There are no windows, and everything here is able to be locked down and tracked,” he said.

“We have a pretty sophisticated security system, and also a pretty sophisticated HVAC system to make sure there is no odour or aroma coming out of our stores that would impact any neighbouring people.”

Cannabis NB will engage “outside help” to assist with security, Harriman sad.

20 ‘world-class’ stores across the province

Twenty stores are anticipated to open across New Brunswick as soon as recreational cannabis becomes legal across Canada this summer.

Eleven of those stores are ready to go, according to Harriman.

“It’s been a fascinating project,” he said. “Obviously, it’s been a tremendous amount of work to build an entirely new company in a short amount of time.”

“We feel very excited for customers to have a really world-class shopping experience.

“To be leading the country on this file is a very nice thing for the province.”

Full story is available here.

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