Green rush – Invest Medicine Hat

Green rush

Cannabis / News / People / Start-up Culture

Cannabis retailers are open for business.

Oct. 19, 2018

In downtown Medicine Hat, cannabis store owners and operators Chris Weber and Jay Hern unpack product for another day of business at their cannabis store, The Green Exchange.

The Green Exchange is one of three stores in Canada’s sunniest city open for business on Oct. 17. On this day, the Cannabis Act became law, making it legal for people to use cannabis recreationally in Canada.

For Weber and Hern, the new law opened the opportunity to start a new venture and even make a career change. Weber built his career in the heavy construction industry and Hern worked on the family ranch.

“As soon as we decided to get into the business we started the paperwork to apply for a license from AGLC in March 2017,” says Weber of the application process. “It was a challenging process, but we worked through the list of requirements to make this happen.”

Located at 328 South Railway Street, a street on the edge of downtown with a daily traffic count exceeding 12,000 vehicles, The Green Exchange is a 3,000 square foot retail space with a jewelry store feel.

“When I walked in I knew this building had potential to be an awesome store,” says Hern, who has experience in renovations. “I envisioned a bright space geared toward our customers.”

New paint, flooring, trim, stone work and electrical upgrades were made to the interior. A counter stretches the length of the store, there is a seating area with plush couches and wall-mounted TV’s display what’s in stock. The owners also built a new entryway and invested in a security system to ensure customers have valid identification and are legal age to purchase products.

The retailer carries a selection of cannabis products ranging from dried flower, to sativa, to CBD oils in a range of prices, including high-end products.

“It’s a brand-new industry and there are more products to come, with edibles on their way to becoming legal in August (2019),” says Hern of the emerging market.

But The Green Exchange isn’t looking to the next wave of cannabis products  just yet. “We’re focusing on the present,” says Hern.

Within days of opening, the store ordered more product to avoid a shortage.

Throughout Canada, an estimated 288 cannabis retailers are expected to be open for business in the fourth quarter of 2018, reported Statistics Canada. The national statistics office also estimates 5.4 million people may want to purchase legal cannabis while spending is expected to range from $816 million to $1.018 billion this year.

“It’s an exciting time to join the cannabis industry,” says Jon Sookocheff, director of business development at Invest Medicine Hat. “Medicine Hat has the most cannabis stores per capita in Alberta.”

On opening day, customers formed a line to enter The Green Exchange, stretching to the end of the block. Other local retailers experienced similar demand, too, as customers look to purchase recreational cannabis products.