City’s first cannabis store opens

The Prince George Citizen - - Front Page - Frank PEE­BLES Cit­i­zen staff fpee­[email protected]­i­t­i­zen.ca

There’s a new shop in Prince Ge­orge, and peo­ple are al­ready lov­ing the joint.

The first le­gal cannabis pur­chased from a re­tail shop in this city’s his­tory oc­curred at a few min­utes past 9 a.m. on Thurs­day.

There was a lineup half­way down the block when the doors of Grasshop­per Re­tail Inc. opened up, and more peo­ple added onto the long snake as fast as cus­tomers ex­ited with their historic pur­chases.

The first peo­ple in line at Grasshop­per were Melissa East­man and Dar­rel Brisson who drove more than an hour to be there.

“We don’t have many op­tions in Macken­zie, just the mail,” said East­man. She and Brisson came out smiling with a large brown pa­per bag loaded with the prod­ucts they set­tled on and some ex­tra re­tail items as well.

They were not the first to ar­rive and get into the morn­ing queue, how­ever. Sa­man­tha Wil­son and her mother Shan­non were the there at 7:30 a.m. but didn’t leave the park­ing lot un­til closer to open­ing.

“We wanted to be in the line, but not start the line,” Sa­man­tha said. “My mom has a cast on her foot so I didn’t want her to have to stand for a long time. We usu­ally load up in Chilliwack, so it’s eas­ier now that Grasshop­per is here. I’ve been wait­ing anx­iously for this to open.”

Not as anx­iously as Sue Katarynych, who has mo­bil­ity chal­lenges and chronic pain.

“I had to stop see­ing a doc­tor for 12 years be­cause he wanted me to stop smok­ing pot and force me to use opi­oides,” she said.

“I’ve had to be il­le­gal for 40 years. It was al­ways for pain re­lief. It was a stupid law in the first place. I was in a wheel­chair when I started us­ing it, and it got me back on my feet again.”

Ruth Johnny is a long­time cannabis so­cial­izer. She has been to two grand open­ings in less than a year.

The first one was in Monc­ton, and now Grasshop­per in Prince Ge­orge. She puz­zled over why it took B.C. so much longer to get things un­der­way, but she was happy to be in line Thurs­day morn­ing on Ge­orge Street.

“Fi­nally, I don’t have to sneak around any­more,” she said.

“I’ve been smok­ing it since the 1970s. I tried drink­ing al­co­hol in­stead, but I just didn’t like that as much. I far pre­fer this. We in our 60s never thought we would ever have this free­dom.”

Many in the lineup were still con­cerned about laws that over­reach and reg­u­la­tions that make a simple thing into a dif­fi­culty, but at least the click of the Grasshop­per lock at 9 a.m. was a sign of progress.

From in­side the store the lineup could hear the staff do a pre­lim­i­nary cheer just be­fore swing­ing open the doors, and the 30-or-so peo­ple out­side gave them a round of ap­plause when the first cus­tomers stepped over the thresh­old.

The crowd had to be ra­tioned into the store when it reached le­gal ca­pac­ity, the lineup grow­ing longer just as fast as the peo­ple were taken in, a new cus­tomer in as a fin­ished cus­tomer went out.

The line was about 40 peo­ple out­side by 9:15, plus the first wave of cus­tomers in­side.

Johnny was the first one to com­plete the pur­chase and exit, shak­ing her lit­tle bag ex­cit­edly, say­ing “now I’m go­ing home with my good­ies.”

Shortly be­hind her was Gra­ham Ash who proudly dis­played his freshly pur­chased Aurora MK Ul­tra Indica jar. It was the kind he liked be­cause it didn’t have drowsi­ness as a side-ef­fect.

“I thought the store was quaint. I liked it,” he said. “It was simple, quick to browse, a very nice shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The store hours are 9-11 a.m. from Thurs­day to Satur­day, and 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Sun­day to Wed­nes­day.

Two pieces of ID are re­quired to en­ter, and only those 19-plus are al­lowed.

CIT­I­ZEN PHOTO BY BRENT BRAATEN

Dar­rel Brisson and Melissa East­man were first in line at the open­ing of Grasshop­per Re­tail Inc., the first pri­vate cannabis store in Prince Ge­orge.

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