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Hundreds line up to purchase legal pot at NSLC in New Minas

Ashley Zinck and Keegan Penney smile as they hold their first purchase of legal cannabis from the NSLC in New Minas. “It’s all pretty amazing – let’s just say it’s been a long time coming,” said Penney.
Ashley Zinck and Keegan Penney smile as they hold their first purchase of legal cannabis from the NSLC in New Minas. “It’s all pretty amazing – let’s just say it’s been a long time coming,” said Penney. - Sara Ericsson

“Let’s just say it’s been a long time coming,” said pot purchaser Keegan Penney

NEW MINAS – A lineup of nearly 200 people wrapped around three walls inside the New Minas NSLC store Oct. 17 as people waited to make their first legal purchase of cannabis.

The store opened early – the first in the province, at 9:30 a.m., according to NSLC spokesperson Beverley Ware – and still could barely accommodate the lineup of customers, which grew to extend out into the County Fair Mall.

New Minas resident Keegan Penney was among the first to buy cannabis and was all smiles as he exited the store with his milestone purchase. He first arrived at the store at midnight, ready to camp out, but decided to return at 7 a.m.

“All it comes down to is that when there’s such an opportunity as this, it’s hard to pass up. This is monumental, and I didn’t want to miss out,” he said while holding his purchase inside a large, brown paper bag.

‘Still a stigma’ to buying pot

Each person who bought cannabis made their purchase toward the back of the store. Every purchase was placed inside a brown paper bag, which was sealed with instructions prompting customers to refrain from opening the package until outside the store.

People lined up at the store to receive their access card for online cannabis purchases, and to buy cannabis from the store. Orders were placed in brown paper bags, instructing customers to keep it sealed while inside the store.
People lined up at the store to receive their access card for online cannabis purchases, and to buy cannabis from the store. Orders were placed in brown paper bags, instructing customers to keep it sealed while inside the store.

Ashley Zinck, of Port Williams, was also among those making their first legal purchase at the New Minas store. She arrived at 7:45 a.m.

She said she felt “judged” by onlookers who stared while she stood in line despite federal legalization rolling out Oct. 17.

“It looks like there’s still a stigma,” she laughed, later adding that she remains excited she can now legally purchase the product.

She said she’s confident people will be happy with their pot purchases from the liquor store.

“The prices are really good – the NSLC knows what they are doing,” she said.

“I never thought I’d be alive when weed was legalized, but here we are.”

‘No more meds, no more money’: LeBlanc

Not everyone at the NSLC was there to purchase cannabis. While several bystanders watched outside the store as more people joined the line, Alex LeBlanc was also outside holding a poster reading, ‘The Cannabis Act has made my life harder!’

LeBlanc, 33, has multiple sclerosis, and is on income assistance. He said he can no longer afford to buy cannabis.

“I’m a low-income patient. Social assistance does not fund cannabis, and MSI does not make a special exemption. The medication I want to take is now illegal, and I cannot afford these prices. So I’m screwed,” he said.

Alex LeBlanc, 33, has multiple sclerosis, and said he can no longer afford cannabis to treat his condition because he is on assisted living, and cannot afford NSLC prices. “Dispensaries are closed, and I can’t afford these prices – what am I supposed to do now?” he said.
Alex LeBlanc, 33, has multiple sclerosis, and said he can no longer afford cannabis to treat his condition because he is on assisted living, and cannot afford NSLC prices. “Dispensaries are closed, and I can’t afford these prices – what am I supposed to do now?” he said.

“I’ve got no more meds, no more money, and now no way to order my meds. I don’t know what to do.”

Supply problem means product could sell out

NSLC spokesperson Beverley Ware confirmed customers can currently purchase cannabis only in the form of dried flowers and pre-rolled joints. While a limited number of gel caps are available, oils and seeds have not yet arrived in stores.

Ware said this is due to a supply problem all locations are experiencing, which could also mean available products will soon sell out.

“We have less than 40 per cent of what we had anticipated, but we did get some deliveries today,” she said.

The maximum amount of cannabis that can be purchased is up to 30 grams. Completed orders are placed in paper bags ranging in size from small to medium to accommodate the different sizes of packaging, according to Ware.

“Many of these products ... are quite large because licensed producers put Health Canada information on the packaging, meaning they are substantially larger than the product itself,” she said.

Customers are also able to obtain access cards as of Oct. 17 at all NSLC locations for online cannabis purchases. There is no fee associated with obtaining a card.

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