Camrose resident Don Smith was one of a few dozen people waiting in line on Wednesday morning (Oct.17) as one of Fort Saskatchewan’s new cannabis shops prepared to open its doors to the public.
Nova Cannabis opened for business at 10 a.m. in a Southpointe commercial centre also home to a fitness centre, pizza shop and a few other retail stores.
Smith, who suffers from severe arthritis, was optimistic that cannabis might help with his symptoms.
"I'm going to give this a shot for medicinal purposes,” he said while standing in line with his wife, Kim. “That's the only reason I'm here."
Fort Saskatchewan mayor Gale Katchur was on hand for the official ribbon cutting ceremony.
"Nova Cannabis has opened several stores and one of them is in Fort Saskatchewan,” she said. “I guess if it's going to be a legal product, we want to make sure people have access to it.”
The Fort Saskatchewan shop is one of five Nova Cannabis locations operating in Alberta. The company also has stores in Edmonton, Calgary and Spruce Grove. The Nova Cannabis brand is owned by Edmonton-based liquor store retailer Alcanna.
Grant Sanderson, regional manager of operations for Alberta for Alcanna and Nova, said his staff were busy doing some last-minute preparations ahead of the store’s first hours in business.
"We are extremely excited. It's a great day to be alive today. We've got a nice lineup of people ready to come in to our store.”
Fort Saskatchewan resident Andrew Faubert also joined the crowd of potential customers waiting for their turn to walk into one of the city’s two new pot shops. Faubert, a podcast host who also works in production at Aurora Cannabis, said legalization was something that had been needed for a very long time.
“A lot of people have been getting medical advances with this product,” he added. “Everybody wants to be around something that they can communicate well with, a product that everybody can kind of talk around and stuff like that, kind of like what alcohol has been.”
Asked what he would say to anyone resistant to the legalization of marijuana, Faubert said he would invite them to try the product for themselves and see things from a different point of view.
“I don't want to see everybody hate. I want to see people participate."