Wait over for recreational users as The Green Cloud Cannabis has AGCO application approved
LISTOWEL – “I’ve always felt that you’re never going to get rid of this, it’s been around for years. Now that it’s regulated, it’s controlled and now legal, let’s give the community a place where they can come in, buy their product and they know exactly what they’re getting.”
Paul James, co-owner of The Green Cloud Cannabis in Listowel, cuts straight to the chase when asked why he and his wife, co-owner Lynn James, decided to get into the retail recreational cannabis industry. And while the legalization of the cultivation, possession, acquisition and consumption of marijuana and its associated products is still relatively new to Canada following the federal government passing the Cannabis Act in 2018, accessing such dispensaries outside of urban areas is also fairly new and something residents will be getting more used to everyday.
But at the end of the day, licensed retail cannabis dispensary owners like the James share a common goal of providing knowledgeable and efficient customer service just like any other small business owner in small-town Ontario.
The Green Cloud Cannabis is the first store of its kind in the province that was granted approval by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) outside of a larger urban centre, with 2019’s initial slate of 25 licences only distributed to applicants within communities comprised of populations of 50,000 or more. The province would ultimately expand the cannabis retail sector to smaller municipalities and jurisdictions, with Paul and Lynn first getting the ball rolling on a Listowel location in January of this year.
The Municipality of North Perth initially opted into the province’s phased-in approach to the cannabis retail sector in January 2019.
“We’ve talked about opening our own business for years,” explained Lynn. The married couple are Grand Valley residents with aspirations of moving to North Perth in the future. Lynn and Paul attended an information session on the newly budding sector, did a pile of follow-up research, and the rest, as they say, is history. “He’s in operations with the government, I’ve got the retail experience. I thought we’d be a good mix of doing something.”
So after acquiring their prime location at 102 Main St. E. in March and waiting as patiently as could be expected for the next several months to see if their application would be approved, the James received the good news in late August that they could proceed with opening their business. Sept. 2 was their official opening date, with a grand opening event forthcoming in the near future.
“We’re giving the community and anybody that comes in a place that has a safe, regulated product and they know what they’re going to get,” said Paul. “Where as with the black market, you have no idea. People are putting all kinds of different chemicals in there. If you’re going to spend your money on that, why wouldn’t you come in to a legal place where you know what you’re getting, you’re going to be safe, and you’re going to enjoy it.”
Everything about The Green Cloud Cannabis is organized and professional – that air is abundantly obvious as soon as one walks through its doors. With shoppers required to provide proof of age and follow current Public Health COVID-19 guidelines, they are treated to a wide variety of options across the ever-growing cannabis consumption realm. One-hundred and fifty different items are available (which encompasses pre-weighted products as well), including edibles, rubs, CBD oils, even beverages; each accurately labelled to their potency levels according to their THC content – the component in cannabis primarily responsible for its intoxicating effects. For those after strictly marijuana or ‘flower’ itself, The Green Cloud has a number of ‘sensory pods’ on hand in order to give shoppers an excellent idea of what they’re buying without physically handling the product. Hands-free pods are equipped with magnifiers and scent holes to that end.
“A lot of people want to see what they’re getting – they want to look at the flower, they want to smell it, things like that,” said Lynn. “We’re really trying to gear towards customer service, and listening to the customer. Their wants and needs. To be the place they want to shop, even if someone else opens up.”
“You want them to leave with the experience that I had so many questions, they answered them all, I felt I got good value for what I bought, and I left there happy,” added Paul. “That is what’s going to bring them back, plus their friend. And then their friend is going to bring a friend.
“At the end of the day, word-of-mouth is your biggest publicity.”
Federal regulations limit recreational cannabis users to purchasing the equivalent of 30 grams of product or less at a given time. The Green Cloud – in addition to being outfitted with high-security surveillance anywhere in the store where products are stored or handled – features a tech-savvy fail-safe to ensure that maximum purchase limit is never surpassed.
“Our software we have, it will not let us sell it if you ring it through,” Lynn explained. “That was a feature we wanted to have, it makes it a lot easier on the cashiers having to calculate and work it out.”
After months of having a storefront presence in Listowel without actually being able to permit customers inside, Paul said that above all, he is looking forward to meeting the clientele that have been actively reaching out via social media and in person, wondering what they can acquire and when The Green Cloud would be opening. That wait is finally over.
“We’re the first one in Ontario that has actually gone after the smaller town. Toronto right now has almost 280 applications for stores – in just the downtown core,” he said, adding that 36 dispensaries are already currently up and running there. “I have had nothing but phenomenal feedback from this community. I always have people approaching me and asking me, ‘when are you opening, when are you opening?’ That tells me that the community has welcomed us.”
The Green Cloud Cannabis is open Monday-Wednesday, 12-8 p.m.; Thursdays 12-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sundays 12-6 p.m. Hours are subject to change upon demand. For more information, contact The Green Cloud at 519-291-9980 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or reach out via social media on Facebook and Instagram. Its website is forthcoming at www.thegreencloudcannabis.com, with a ‘click and collect’ option for online purchase and in-store pickup.