Cannabis is officially legal for recreational use in Canada.
Stores across the country opened their doors for the first time to eager Canadian cannabis-ethusiasts.
TL;DR Despite some confusion and hiccups, buying marijuana at the SQDC appears to be as easy as it could possibly be. Security, however, seems excessive. Customers pass through three employees before reaching the order counter.
In Montreal, potentially thousands of people lined up to take part in this historic occassion.
The government of Quebec holds a complete monopoly on marijuana sales through the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC).
For months the SQDC has teased its store design concept, customer service protocols, and range of products. But only today has the full experience finally become accessible.
A representative for MTLBlog was among the first twenty-five people admitted into the downtown SQDC branch on Rue Ste-Catherine.
They arrived at the branch at around 6:30am. By opening time at 10:00 am, hundreds of people were in a line that wrapped around the block.
At exactly 10:00, a cheer ran through the crowd as doors finally opened. A security guard emerged to keep media cameras at bay.
Only twenty individuals are allowed in the store at one time.
Customers enter the store via a security atrium. From the street, this is the only visible section of the branch.
Visitors must present identification at a security desk before proceeding onto the sales floor.
There, SQDC employees are eager to assist you. They give the impression that you must pass through them before placing your order.
Those employees spend a lot of time diligently explaining the effects and risks of the three categories of marijuana at the store: indica, sativa, and hybrid.
But despite that enthusiasm, anxiety was palpable among the employees. There also seemed to be slight confusion about some products.
Two employees told our representative that cannabis oils may be placed on the tongue, while, upon further inspection, the product's directions indicate that oil must be placed under the tongue. But that's probably a trivial distinction.
Overall, however, employees were friendly, informed, and meticulous.
Products are out of reach of customers and stored securely behind a counter that surrounds an open central space.
The branch seemed to be quickly emptying its shelves. It was unclear whether more products were stored out of sight either below counters or in a back room.
The products are hilariously named.
Because there are no line indicators, there was much confusion about how to actually place an order once they approached the counter.
It took twenty minutes for our representative to be served.
The employee behind the desk exhibited even more confusion. He was unsure about the product which had been recommended.
Moreover, because customer orders are organized along a second visible counter behind the initial customer desk, there appeared to be some doubt about which products corresponded to which customers.
The check-out employee confirmed orders multiple times with each customer. Cannabis products are placed in an unmarked brown paper bag.
Once customers have paid for their products, they are free to leave the store.
In sum, buying marijuana appears to be as easy as it could possibly be. Customers should be prepared, though, to pass through three employees before obtaining their products.
This is only the first day of legalization. Customer service protocols and regulations are sure to become more firm in the coming days.