The Herbal Centre employee Cec Howse, left, and store owner Kenneth Oliver hope the availability of cannabis edibles will bring in new customers. – Andrew Robinson
Local cannabis retailers do expect to attract new customers as a result of edibles becoming legal across Canada, but they are not convinced the product will help them compete with the black market.
As of Tuesday, Dec. 17, it is legal to sell cannabis-infused edible goods such as candies, chocolates, tea bags, powders and beverages, among other goods. Cannabis NL, the arm of the Newfoundland Liquor Corporation tasked with controlling the sale of cannabis related goods in the province, reported on its website that a limited number of items are available now through retailers and ShopCannabisNL.com, with additional products to come in the weeks and months ahead.
Kenneth Oliver, owner of The Herbal Centre on Kenmount Road in St. John’s, has been getting non-stop phone calls about the availability of edibles.
„Every person that walks in asks about edibles,” he said Tuesday while taking a quick break from serving customers.
However, he was only permitted to start ordering stock as of Monday, Dec. 16, and anticipated a three-to-five business day wait before the product would reach his store.
„People that are conscious about smoke and ruining their lungs and they want to try cannabis, they would try different methods like edibles,” he said.
Thomas Clarke of THC Distribution in Portugal Cove likewise has received lots of public inquiries about the availability of cannabis edibles and hoped to have product available to his store by Thursday.
„It’s going to reach a whole new market of people who aren’t coming here at all yet, I think,” he said.
Retailers like Green Stop Cannabis To Go in Paradise are now legally able to sell edible cannabis products.
While Oliver and Clarke think edibles will bring in new business, they are not altogether convinced the low-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) variant of edibles will please all customers and likely send many back to the black market. THC represents the psychoactive aspect of cannabis, with stronger levels of THC typically corresponding with how high a person using the product will get.
„I understand why the government put a low cap on the milligrams per unit when it comes to edibles, because they want people to start a little more slow — they don’t want people to get too overwhelmed,” Oliver said. „And then once people get a handle for microdosing and figure out what their dosage level is like, then after a year or so (government) can come out with something a bit stronger … It’s good that they did that, but at the same time, they should have had something come out for the connoisseurs like myself.”
At ShopCannabisNL.com, a chocolate square with 10 milligrams of THC sells for $5.99. According to Oliver, a cookie with 100 milligrams of THC can be purchased for $20 on the black market.
Clarke said he usually would look for an edible product with 80 milligrams of THC, and he knows of others with a tolerance for much more than that. He doubts those consumers will purchase dozens of packages to meet their needs and expects it will mostly be first-time users and people interested in the product as a novelty item who will buy it from stores like his own.
„If the idea of legalization is to try and stop the black market, it’s not going to have any effect on that whatsoever, because of the 10 milligrams of THC per package,” he said. „Most people who are regular edible users and cannabis smokers, they need a lot more than 10 milligrams.”
As it stands, private licensed retailers like Oliver and Clarke are still working with tight profit margins, though the situation will get better starting next month when new commission rates take effect in Newfoundland and Labrador. Oliver noted too cannabis suppliers still have not caught up with national demand for the product, and he expects it’s going to take more time before that happens.
„We still get allocations sent to us with what’s available that we can order,” he explained. „We can’t order whatever we want, whenever we want. It’s whatever they offer us.”
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