Port aux Basques proves a nat­u­ral fit for Oceanic Re­leaf cannabis

The Gulf News (Port aux Basques) - - Front Page - BY ROSALYN ROY

Al­though cannabis will be avail­able at re­tail out­lets once le­gal­iza­tion comes into ef­fect on Oct. 17, south­west coast res­i­dents will have to wait a bit longer to pur­chase it lo­cally.

Tay­lor Gio­van­nini of Oceanic Re­leaf says the date for the grand open­ing of the Port aux Basques lo­ca­tion has not yet been de­ter­mined, but she is hop­ing to have the doors open be­fore the end of the year.

“I was keen on go­ing to Port aux Basques,” says Gio­van­nini, who jumped at the op­por­tu­nity to grow into a new mar­ket. “Port aux Basques, I saw, you know, is one of the main en­try points to New­found­land. I wanted to show ev­ery­one who got off the boat that hey, here’s a New­found­land com­pany and we’re a part of the cannabis in­dus­try.”

Oceanic Re­leaf, which is in the process of be­com­ing a li­censed med­i­cal cannabis pro­ducer for Health Canada at its Burin lo­ca­tion, will also op­er­ate stores in Marys­town and Rocky Har­bour. Gio­van­nini sees the move to em­brace a re­tail side to the busi­ness is more than just a nat­u­ral fit.

“With the re­cre­ation (use) on the rise, I thought it was my so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity – as it is for oth­ers as well – but to de­liver cannabis in a safe and re­spon­si­ble way, and I mean ed­u­ca­tion is the only way to do that,” she said.

Gio­van­nini, who has a busi­ness back­ground, has con­sulted with cannabis ex­perts and has been in­volved in the in­dus­try for the past two years. Open­ing her own stores means Oceanic Re­leaf can en­sure that its staff are able to prop­erly ed­u­cate cus­tomers about all of­fer­ings on its prod­uct line, which will in­clude oils and cap­sules.

Even­tu­ally the prod­uct line is ex­pected to ex­pand into other of­fer­ings such as ed­i­bles, in­fused wines and even bub­ble bath, but Gio­van­nini says gov­ern­ment has al­ready said that will take at least an­other year.

“I can def­i­nitely see it go­ing into dif­fer­ent sec­ondary prod­ucts,” says Gio­van­nini. “New­found­land is a pri­vate mar­ket in terms of re­tail­ers, so it’s def­i­nitely go­ing to be a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket, but you know the beauty with Canada is that, you know, we’re the first – go­ing to be the first – G7 coun­try to le­gal­ize it across the board, and that means that all recre­ational cannabis has to come from a li­censed pro­ducer of Health Canada.”

Nat­u­ral fit

Vet­eran en­tre­pre­neur and lo­cal res­i­dent Pam Os­mond will run the day to day op­er­a­tions of the store. Gio­van­nini says bring­ing Os­mond into her op­er­a­tion was an­other nat­u­ral fit.

“She reached out to me and told me her story and it just re­ally res­onated with me,” says Gio­van­nini. “The rea­son I got in­volved with cannabis is orig­i­nally for the med­i­cal side of it and, you know, she has a sim­i­lar story. Her pas­sion is very sim­i­lar to mine.”

“I’m on it med­i­cally. So I’ve been (on it) now for four months. I’ve al­ways had an in­ter­est in it,” con­firms Os­mond, who has sold her suc­cess­ful nail sa­lon to move into the cannabis in­dus­try. “It’s help­ing peo­ple,

“This is a brand new era and, you know, it’s ex­cit­ing and we just gotta ride it out.”

– Tay­lor Gio­van­nini

what I love to do.”

Os­mond says the feed­back she has re­ceived has been only pos­i­tive.

“Fe­males are com­ing for­ward,” notes Os­mond. “When I tell them (women) that I’m go­ing to be man­ag­ing? ‘Oh my God. Awe­some. Now I will come in to talk to you about it.’”

Oceanic Re­leaf will of­fer a full women’s line of prod­ucts, and Os­mond men­tions menopause and en­dometrio­sis as just two ex­am­ples that the prod­ucts can help ad­dress.

Os­mond says a few se­niors have al­ready reached out with ques­tions she’s been able to an­swer, but she doesn’t ad­vise any­one when it comes to med­i­cal us­age.

While both women came to the in­dus­try through the med­i­cal side of cannabis, Gio­van­nini is quick to clar­ify that the shop is only able to pro­vide recre­ational cannabis prod­ucts. Peo­ple re­quir­ing med­i­cal cannabis must still ob­tain a pre­scrip­tion from their physi­cians, and the store will not be li­censed to fill it and is also not able to of­fer any med­i­cal ad­vice.

“This store is strictly recre­ational,” says Gio­van­nini, who be­lieves that may prove con­fus­ing for new con­sumers.

In ad­di­tion to Os­mond, the new store will also gen­er­ate any­where from five to 10 jobs, de­pend­ing on hours of op­er­a­tion and how well con­sumers re­spond.

“Pam and I are ac­tively look­ing for em­ploy­ees for the store at the mo­ment,” con­firms Gio­van­nini.

Staff will be trained to an­swer all ques­tions, and to com­ply with the strict se­cu­rity mea­sures man­dated not only by the prov­ince but by Oceanic Re­leaf.

“There’s a ton of se­cu­rity mea­sures from video sur­veil­lance to se­cured ar­eas and of course this will be a Tier 1 cannabis re­tail lo­ca­tion, so you’ll have to be 19 to ac­tu­ally get in the fa­cil­ity,” says Gio­van­nini.

For her part, Os­mond says while she is ex­cited about the new store, she’s go­ing to miss run­ning her own sa­lon and her reg­u­lars she refers to as fam­ily.

“The joke in town was I did ther­apy by day and nails for free,” laughs Os­mond, who re­cently re­turned from four days of train­ing in St. John’s. “A lot of them said, ‘I will come to visit you now.’”

“The town has been very sup­port­ive,” notes Gio­vanni. “This is a brand new era and, you know, it’s ex­cit­ing and we just gotta ride it out.”

COUR­TESY OF ROBERT CON­WAY PHO­TOG­RA­PHY

Tay­lor Gio­van­nini of Oceanic Re­leaf.

J. R. ROY — SPE­CIAL TO THE GULF NEWS

Pam Os­mond will man­age the Port aux Basques cannabis shop.

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