But in a set-up closer to a pharmacy than a wine boutique, customers will have to wait to be served by a clerk who keeps products behind a counter. And they will not be allowed into the shop until they pass an ID check to prove they are of legal age.
Media were invited Tuesday to tour a Montreal outlet of the Quebec Cannabis Corp., the subsidiary of the provincial liquor corporation that has exclusive control over sales in the province.
The store features a long wall of shelves stocked with cannabis, all behind a counter and out of the customer’s reach.
From the outside, the only indication of what is for sale is a discreet Quebec Cannabis Corp. logo.
In a statement, the Quebec Cannabis Corp. said the stores reflect its mission “to make all the information accessible without encouraging consumption.”
It describes the shopping experience in clinical terms. When customers first pass through the door, they enter “the reception zone,” where ID is verified to make sure they are 18 or over. No one under 18 will be allowed in, even if they are accompanying a parent.
Those of legal age then pass into the sales room — “the advice zone” — where “information and advisory services are offered from a health and education perspective.”
A sample pamphlet distributed Tuesday informs customers they have a choice between different strains of cannabis, varying strengths and different formats — dried buds, ground, pre-rolled, oil, oral spray and pills. Products are classified according to their aromas, including citrus, diesel, skunk, earthy and cheese.
“It’s a historic day, a real first,” said Alain Brunet, project manager for the crown corporation. “The first G7 country to legalize cannabis coast-to-coast, and the second country in the world, after Uruguay.”
He said his organization’s mission is “to convert the black market into a legal market. It is really a social mission that we are giving ourselves.”
Quebec has priced products starting at $5.25 a gram, taxes included. In addition to the 12 stores opening across the province, the corporation will begin offering online sales Wednesday. Deliveries will be made by Canada Post, which will be instructed to verify the age of recipients.
Stephanie Marin, The Canadian Press