Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

POPULAR DESTINATION – The first of 1,000-plus visitors congregate outside the cannabis Yukon store late Wednesday morning. Inset Patch Groenewegen

Cannabis sales site attracted 30,000 views

Yukoners were out in full force Wednesday as the territory wrapped up its first official day of cannabis legalization.

By Stephanie Waddell on October 18, 2018

Yukoners were out in full force Wednesday as the territory wrapped up its first official day of cannabis legalization.

More than 1,000 people visited the territorial government-run retail store in Whitehorse’s Marwell area.

That’s according to Patch Groenewegen, a Yukon Liquor Corp. (YLC) spokesperson.

She explained this morning that between the retail store hours of 11 a.m. and 9 p.m., about 1,041 people tried to get their hands on now-legal cannabis products.

Roughly $59,000 worth of product was sold in total, between the CannabisYukon.org site and the physical store.

About 20 people were refused entry into the store, for either being under 19 years of age, having no photo ID to show, or appearing intoxicated.

A breakdown of that number was not available from officials before press time this afternoon.

The number of purchases, meanwhile, hovered at just over 700 transactions at the store by the end of day – with Yukoners spending an average of about $73 per transaction.

As for the online sales, the YLC tracked numbers beginning at noon to about 12 a.m.

It found there were about 30,000 views of the site itself from more than 700 visitors.

The website was initially supposed to be live at 11 a.m., the same time the store opened.

Technical problems, however, led to about an hour’s delay, with the webpage eventually up shortly after noon.

Groenewegen chalked up the delay to technical difficulties on the YLC’s end.

She added that the average amount an online shopper spent was about $120 per transaction.

Meanwhile, while the total sales from both the retail and online stores was about $59,000 (after the five-per-cent GST), the vast majority of sales traced back to the physical store.

In fact, about three quarters of the sales came from the site at 120B Industrial Rd., with the remaining quarter being attributed to online transactions.

“We found sales seemed to be of smaller package sizes,” Groenewegen said.

Pre-rolled products of about 3.5 grams or smaller were popular among customers, she reported. Of the 40 or so different products sold, premium ones were common.

“It’s interesting,” she said, noting that premium products can range from $15 and up.

YLC president Matt King explained earlier this week that most of the products at the store fall into the core category of about $10 to $15 range.

“Over time, we’ll be able to tell what the market will have as a demand,” Groenewegen added of the popularity of premium products on the first day.

While the corporation did run low on some units, she explained, it didn’t completely run out of inventory.

Some items from the warehouse, which also serves as the YLC’s distribution centre, were brought over to the store to ensure that demand was being met and stock was replenished.

“Some product choices were depleted by end of day, but we still had inventory.”

Groenewegen confirmed that the corporation has already issued a second round of orders, with inventory continuing to roll in Wednesday and more in the coming days.

The store’s hours will remain 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. for today and Friday, eventually closing up shop at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Sundays will see it remain closed.

It accepts payment in cash, debit and credit card with the exception of American Express, and customers are reminded to bring a government-issued photo ID as proof of age.

At a media briefing held Tuesday, King offered some insight into the timeline beyond the spring 2019 date set for when the government hopes to begin accepting applications to sell cannabis from private retailers.

“We expect to advertise for licensing board members starting next month,” he said.

He referenced the cannabis licensing board that is expected to be formed early next year, according to documents provided at a Sept. 17 event hosted by the government.

That board will have the authority to refuse, issue, cancel or suspend licenses to commercial retailers, and will be made up of at least five members serving up to a three-year term.

Health and Social Services Minister Pauline Frost was also on hand for Tuesday’s media tour of the store. She was joined by Tracy-Anne McPhee, who serves double duty as the Education and Justice minister.

“We know that Yukon has one of the highest consumption rates in the country,” Frost told reporters.

She hopes to ensure that the public is aware of the health impacts of cannabis from the get-go.

She encouraged the public to keep its eyes peeled for number of awareness campaign events in the coming months. The first will be hosted at the Whitehorse Public Library beginning at 6 p.m. next Monday.

See commentary, related coverage.

Comments (6)

Up 4 Down 0

Yukon Watchdog on Oct 23, 2018 at 2:56 pm

@ PSG It's a well-known fact that alcohol-impaired drivers are often spotted and pulled over because they are going too slow - trying to stay between the lines, trying not to swerve or speed, trying to stay awake maybe. Where do you get your information from?

Up 9 Down 1

woodcutter on Oct 22, 2018 at 4:18 pm

@ I love parks.
There is plenty of tools the RCMP have to deal with suspected impaired drivers. One sniff of it in the vehicle and they can do road side 24 hours drivers suspension, tow the vehicle perform sobriety checks. The news is full of dummies being given tickets for smoking in the car, the same way they would deal with a open alcohol in the vehicle. "lock it in the trunk" is the advice from the RCMP, or else.
Impaired driving is not regulated only to alcohol, it could be used for tired drivers, drivers under the effects of prescription medication and even those who have day surgery in the hospital.

Up 6 Down 18

Doug Ryder on Oct 18, 2018 at 9:39 pm

Here come the social problems 1, 2, 3...
Fears about the impacts of cannabis legalization in Indigenous communities persist. In Nunavut, the territory Patterson represents, there are no addiction treatment centres, and the senator said his concerns have not been allayed by a “vague promise of increased funding” for mental health and addiction services in the ministers’ letter. Ted S Warren / ASSOCIATED PRESS

But there remains enough confusion that the Assembly of First Nations in May passed a resolution calling on the federal government to amend Bill C-45 to “recognize and respect First Nations sovereignty and jurisdiction over their reserves and traditional territories.”
In their letter, Philpott and Petitpas Taylor promised to “address and accommodate jurisdictional issues.”

Last week, as the Indigenous senators announced they would support the bill thanks to the government’s reassurances, some were still of two minds.
“This bill represents one of the greatest paradoxes I’ve encountered in my legislative time here,” Independent Sen. Daniel Christmas said last Wednesday in the Senate. “This bill represents a potential economic powerhouse for First Nations… but it casts a long and threatening shadow on an element of Canadian society already ravaged by unmitigated poverty, … drug dependency and epidemic rates of suicide.”

Up 8 Down 23

Doug Ryder on Oct 18, 2018 at 7:57 pm

In conversation with Ilove Parks: Absolutely correct - scary. There will be a lot of problems associated with freed weed. There will be a lot of social problems as a result of freed weed. Impaired drivers being one.

Up 17 Down 6

ProScience Greenie on Oct 18, 2018 at 4:13 pm

Right on. Fiscal conservatives and free market fans should be thrilled.

Err, Ilove Parks, perhaps our police for now could simply continue doing what they've been doing all along dealing with impaired driving as the number of people having a toke and driving will most likely not change by much. And just maybe we'll see less alcohol impaired drivers on the road. Best to have no impaired driving but I'd rather see an overly cautious driver that smoked a joint on the road than an aggressive overconfident booze fueled driver. Anyways, not the end of the world.

Up 26 Down 43

Ilove Parks on Oct 18, 2018 at 3:29 pm

This is scary. The police have no effective tools that can deal with impaired driving after smoking pot.

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