Some pot strains sold out

Consumers in British Columbia wanting to legally buy recreational marijuana for the first time on Wednesday were most likely to use the province's online sales system, which Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says passed one significant hurdle in the early going.

After it went live at midnight, Farnworth says the system recorded about 1,000 sales in the first hour.

"It did not crash," he told a conference call with reporters.

By 2 p.m., the only government store in B.C., in Kamloops, had taken about 200 orders, and the province said there had been about 5,600 online purchases. By mid-afternoon some products were sold out.

Farnworth said he expected demand to exceed supply for some of the products.

"Some strains are going to sell out faster than other strains, and it shows people are excited about the prospect of being able to buy legal cannabis in B.C. and in the rest of the country," he said. "It doesn't surprise me. It's like you go to the liquor store and sometimes your favourite wine is sold out."

Viviana Zanocco, a spokeswoman for the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, said producers "fell short" on what the government expected to be delivered.

Blain Lawson, CEO of the distribution branch, said the store's frosted windows meet a Health Canada regulation that prohibits product being visible from the street. "We're making sure that it looks nice from the outside, but children won't be able to see into the store," he said.

The store has a clean, streamlined layout with white walls and glossy shelves. Mounted electronic tablets with touch screens display strains of marijuana available for purchase and prices.

Consumers can take a whiff of each strain from a clear plastic "smell jar" that has a small piece of bud inside. Staff carry small flashlights to help customers take a closer look at the nuggets, but otherwise the product is not openly displayed.

Kevin Satterfield, director of cannabis retail operations for the distribution branch, said about 20 people have been hired to work at the store and they looked for staff with awareness of cannabis. All underwent criminal background checks, but a small pot possession conviction would not necessarily disqualify them.

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