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This article was published 8/11/2018 (288 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The red carpet was rolled out to welcome customers to the first retail cannabis shop in Brandon on Thursday morning, with a lineup of eager customers stretching round the building.
Arriving to line up at the store an hour before it opened, Jaydwiga Merkle was the first person in the city to legally purchase weed from the retail marijuana shop Tweed.
"This is history in the making; the first legal store to open in Brandon," Merkle said.
Merkle was not in line alone for long, with others soon joining her in the cold morning air waiting for Tweed to open its doors at 2705 Victoria Ave.
Purchasing some Indica strains from Tweed, Merkle was ecstatic to make her mark in history.
Excited to try the strains, Merkle said she was impressed with the store’s offerings.
Unsure of what to expect from Tweed, given that legal retail stores are a new phenomenon in Canada, Merkle loved what she discovered inside.
"It’s very nice, very professional looking," she said. "I’m very excited at how it turned out."
Jamie Herring, a self-professed lover of marijuana, was another early arrival for the store’s opening. Near the front of the line, Herring arrived on site about 45 minutes before Tweed opened, largely in part because he expected others to show up early as well.
The opportunity to buy legal weed was a welcome activity for Herring.
"When I go to my dealers, it’s so awkward," Herring said. "I’m hoping for one thing, but he always has some other crap."
Having the chance to explore a store like Tweed was interesting, Herring said, because of the consistency, availability and diversity in what the shop could potentially offer.
"I hope it’s just a good time," Herring said.
Tweed Manitoba district sales manager Celiene Morales was excited and proud to open the doors to the store in Brandon — the fourth retail shop in the province.
The grand opening offered a chance for Tweed to establish itself as a hub for all things related to weed.
"We’re here in Brandon to really educate the customer, to be that resource," Morales said.
While Tweed may be the first store to open in Brandon, at least four more are expected to open in the Wheat City soon.
Morales sees the opening of Tweed in Brandon as a step in opening up the community to legal marijuana.
"We’re partners in this and I think we’re changing the face of cannabis together," Morales said.
She hopes to see all other retail cannabis shops succeed in this adventure.
One of the most important aspects of marijuana legalization is that Tweed can help educate people who may be unfamiliar with the drug.
Featuring "strain tables," the store is aiming to make cannabis accessible and easy to understand. Strain cards are paired with each unique type of weed available at Tweed detailing the type, profile, formats and top 5 Terpenes of the product. A brief history of the strain, almost like what one would see with a wine, is also included.
With the ability as a legal dispensary to ensure product control, Tweed is able to provide consistent cannabis, ensuring it can share THC and CBD levels of different strains with customers.
Further, Tweedtenders, employees who are "experts on cannabis," are on hand throughout the store to help customers find the type of weed that best suits their needs. On average, there are eight to 15 employees on the ground.
"You can literally take that person, walk them through the store and educate them because cannabis is something everyone knows of, but isn’t familiar with," Morales said.
These features work to create an environment where customers are able to shop with guidance from Tweedtenders, or on their own.
"We’re bringing a different face to cannabis," Morales said.
Tweed features Indica, Sativa and hybrid blends, launching fully stocked with their four available weed products on Thursday.
The shop is looking to introduce a variety of types as they continue to grow. There will eventually be more than 10 strains available at the store.
Encountering those who have a number of misconceptions about the drug, Morales said that part of the education is sharing how weed works and the effects it actually has on a person.
One of the biggest myths she encounters is that weed is only good for putting a person to sleep. She uses this as an example to show that there are different strains one can have to craft a variety of experiences.
"You can have a Sativa if you want to have a little more energy, and a Indica if you want to relax. There’s so many different variants," Morales said.
These strains typically could not be differentiated in the illicit market, Morales said, adding that this is one of the biggest changes brought on by legalization.
The shop also features a selection of home decor, clothing, cooking accessories and weed pipes/bombs etc. along with different types of cannabis.
With demand for weed growing, Morales is excited to see the shop meet those needs.
The demand for legal marijuana has been higher then expected, but Tweed anticipates being ready to meet customer needs.
"In some ways the shortage is good," said Jordan Sinclair, Tweed’s vice-president of communications.
With the legalization of cannabis taking place on Oct. 17, the company has faced demand for product from across the country since they first launched.
"For us we were treating that really as a starting point that we could build from," Sinclair said.
Growing its own products in seven licensed facilities across Canada has helped the company to have reach in the recreational side. Half of its products have become available online in about the last six months.
The demand has been higher than anticipated, although the company was prepared to have shortages in the first months of legalization.
For those who stop by Brandon’s Tweed and find the shop has a shortage of cannabis, Sinclair recommends checking out the online store as an alternative.
"In some ways that’s a good thing. It gives us a little bit of a market that we can grow into," Sinclair said.
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