A long-time medical cannabis user has given thumbs down to the legal recreational product that is finally available in Red Deer.It’s criticism the manager of the new retail outlet is quick to dismiss, however.
Rob Gillis said the Ontario-produced cannabis that he bought last week doesn’t compare to the quality of medical cannabis he buys online from British Columbia.
“It is dried, old pot. (Customers) are paying for high-dollar pot and it’s not anywhere near that,” said Gillis, who has been buying medical cannabis for about five years.
He purchased 3.5 grams for about $45 at Greentown, which opened its doors on Thursday, and is the only legal recreational cannabis store so far in Red Deer.
Gillis went to Greentown because of the postal strike and he feared his online-ordered cannabis might get tied up in the mail. But he said the cannabis he bought in Red Deer had little smell.
“If you’ve got Lemon Skunk, as soon as I open the container, the whole room should smell like Lemon Skunk,” he said, referring to a variety of cannabis.
He said the buds were small, apparently the leftovers from a more healthy harvest.
“I would give it two out of 10.”
Gillis said he would appreciate being able to see the cannabis before he buys it to ensure the quality.
“It’s not right what they’re doing,” said Gillis, who was surprised by the amount of packaging.
Greentown owner Sam Katzman said as far as quality goes, he hasn’t heard any complaints.
“I got a lot of people telling me how great they thought the quality was because it doesn’t come from the black market. It’s not sprayed with pesticides. You know what you’re getting. People really like that,” Katzman said.
“It’s made by professionals. It’s not made in someone’s basement. It’s safe.”
He said all legal recreational cannabis stores buy their products directly from the government.
“As far as the product itself, that’s the product that’s being provided by the licensed producer to the government and then to the retail outlets. So if you buy the Lemon Skunk in Red Deer, or if you buy the Lemon Skunk in Calgary or Edmonton, you’re getting the same product.”
He said a lot of black-market cannabis that has a strong odour has been sprayed to make it smell that way.
Containers from licensed producers also list the producer’s name and telephone number.
Katzman called Greentown’s opening a success with about 2,500 customers the first day.
“I got to meet a lot of great people in Red Deer. Everyone was so nice and so welcoming and so happy that we were there, because they waited a long time.”
Katzman said he did hear some shoppers say there wasn’t much variety in his store. But on Monday, things were already looking better.
“I got another order sheet and there’s 65 items to order. Last week, there was only, I think, 35. So as time goes on, (Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis) will have more and more variety.”
Days of operation will also expand as licensed producers address the cannabis shortage, he said.
Greentown was only open Thursday, Friday and Saturday last week, and will reopen again on Thursday.
As far as packaging goes, he said government guidelines require cannabis to remain sealed so customers can’t see or smell the product, and while there is a lot of packaging, it’s recyclable.