Pot chain ban­ishes stoner stereo­types

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - JAC­QUIE MILLER

The Ot­tawa com­pany that plans to con­vert some Sec­ond Cup cof­fee stores into pot shops has pro­vided a peek at what cus­tomers in West­ern Canada can ex­pect when they stroll in to buy their le­gal weed.

An artist ren­der­ing of the shops de­picts a cool, un­clut­tered space dec­o­rated in white with ma­genta ac­cents and splashes of hot pink. Meta Cannabis Sup­ply Com­pany looks like any other bou­tique at the mall.

The store motto — “Life Uplifted” — is typ­i­cal of the lan­guage be­ing em­ployed by Cana­dian cannabis com­pa­nies that are cre­at­ing life­style brands to ap­peal to recre­ational con­sumers. The mes­sage be­hind Meta is that cannabis can bring “pos­i­tiv­ity” into your life, said Matt Ryan, vice-pres­i­dent of mar­ket­ing for Na­tional Ac­cess Cannabis (NAC), the Ot­tawa com­pany be­hind the brand.

“It’s about in­spir­ing artists. It’s about en­hanc­ing ex­pe­ri­ences with na­ture. It’s about help­ing anx­i­ety, or pain or lack of sleep. Bring­ing pos­i­tiv­ity to peo­ple’s lives in this brand is what we are all about.”

The name Meta was se­lected be­cause the word is “very much about the meta­phys­i­cal,” said Ryan. “It’s about a higher state of con­scious­ness. It also sounds re­ally cool. It’s a nice four-let­ter word, very modern.”

So ban­ish those stoner stereo­types. And don’t ex­pect any tiedye-clad hip­pie to serve you at the counter, ei­ther. In the draw­ing, the clerk be­hind the “ex­press bar” is sim­ply dressed in a T-shirt and the cus­tomer ap­pears to be 20-some­thing. That re­flects what might be the typ­i­cal shop­per, since peo­ple aged 18 to 24 have the high­est rate of cannabis use, ac­cord­ing to Statis­tics Canada.

The store fea­tures tablet sta­tions where shop­pers can re­search prod­ucts be­fore they make an or­der at the counter. That sce­nario will be typ­i­cal in Canada’s pot shops. Fed­eral govern­ment rules re­quire prod­ucts to be sold from be­hind the counter, in plain-ish pack­ages plas­tered with health warn­ings.

Meta cannabis stores will be scat­tered across the west­ern prov­inces, Ryan said. The ex­act num­ber isn’t known yet, but NAC plans to be a dom­i­nant op­er­a­tor in all prov­inces that al­low pri­vately-run pot stores.

NAC al­ready has a con­tract, in con­junc­tion with sev­eral First Na­tions, to op­er­ate stores in Man­i­toba, has ap­plied to op­er­ate stores in Al­berta and Saskatchewan, and will do the same in B.C. as reg­u­la­tions al­low. Some of the Meta stores will be con­ver­sions of Sec­ond Cup out­lets, while oth­ers will be new store­fronts.

In On­tario, pot shops will be run by a sub­sidiary of the LCBO.

The On­tario Cannabis Re­tail Corp. has not re­leased any de­tails about the in­te­rior de­sign of the stores. The store logo is a sim­ple black cir­cle on a white back­ground with the acro­nym OCS, for On­tario Cannabis Store, in­side.

There will only be 40 stores across On­tario to start, in­creas­ing to 150 stores by 2020.

Recre­ational pot is ex­pected to be made le­gal across the coun­try this sum­mer or fall.

CNW GROUP/NA­TIONAL AC­CESS CANNABIS CORP.

Meta plans to have a cool space to ap­peal to the typ­i­cal 20-some­thing pot cus­tomer.

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