Penticton's BC Cannabis store opened Wednesday

First BC Cannabis in valley

Chelsea Powrie

The wait is over for government cannabis in the Okanagan. 

On Wednesday at 10 a.m., the valley's first BC Cannabis shop opened its doors in Penticton, in the 2200 block of Main Street. It has 10  regular employees and four auxiliaries, all Penticton-based. 

BC Cannabis Stores regional manager Tyson Muzzillo said the government shops differ from private counterparts through their main focus on education about safe, responsible consumption. 

"The mandate that we have is to educate individuals," Muzzillo said, pointing to informational panels lining the walls of the store.

Anyone who appears to be under 30 will be asked for identification at the door, and there will be cannabis consultants on hand to answer customer questions. 

The store has 84 different varietals of cannabis on the store available to view and smell before making a decision, along with bongs, vaporizers, rolling papers, lighters, grinders and a new edition to the BC Cannabis lineup: Edibles. 

"We started to see the first wave of edibles coming into market in January of this year, and there's an excitement, it's just a different way to consume," Muzzillo said. "Sometimes smoking is not something people are comfortable with."

As for competition with local private stores, prices will tend to hover pretty close, with a potential slight advantage to private. BC Cannabis and licensed private retailers all get their cannabis from the same approved wholesalers. 

"Private retailers have the option to set their prices as long as it's not below wholesale cost. So they could find products at a private that would be a little bit less expensive, and they could find products here that are on par with the privates," Muzzillo said. 

While this is the Okanagan's first BC Cannabis, Muzzillo said stores in the central and north Okanagan are at varying stages of approval through local municipal governing bodies. He does not have official opening dates, but said he was hopeful they would begin to open in the summer and fall.

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