Vancouver’s first fully licensed medical marijuana store – the Wealth Shop – opens in Point Grey on Thursday. And, ahead of its grand opening, director Jesse Rice-Jones gave Vancity Buzz the inside scoop on what customers can expect.
“We’re very excited, and very grateful for the opportunity,” Rice-Jones said Tuesday. “We’re going to provide an informative and a friendly atmosphere.”
The store, nestled along a strip mall at 104-4545 West 10th Avenue, is small, but couldn’t be more Vancouverite, with one wall covered in moss and reclaimed wood everywhere.
A decagonal display showing of cannabis salve is built from crates that originally transported supplies during World War Two; shelving comes from a 1900s heritage home.
Getting down to product, the store will be dispensing various dried cannabis strains, cannabis tinctures, bath soaks and scrubs, salves and concentrates.
Rice-Jones is also proud that the store will offer members access to health and wellness professionals, including a physio and a chiropractor. (They’re still actively seeking to team up with more health practitioners and urge anyone interested in getting on board to get in touch.)
Rice-Jones says that health and wellness approach is reflected in the store’s slogan ‘Wealth – Rich In Health’, which aims to redefine the meaning of wealth.
“For us it’s based on mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. That’s how I live my life. It’s all encompassing, it all works together – without one, you can’t really have the other.”
Rice-Jones couldn’t share the exact source of the Wealth Shop’s products, saying only that they came from a “reputable” third party in Canada. But, he says, they are rigorously tested, screened and it’s all proprietary.
When asked what he hopes those products can help with, Rice-Jones simply says “everything.”
“For instance, if you come here with chronic pain, one of the things I’m really proud of is the fact that we have the opportunity to send you to a health practitioner which could help diagnose the root of it,” he said.
“Yes, we have the ability to give you the medication that you need but also the ability to figure out why you’re in pain and hopefully alleviate it.”
Cannabis and cancer
The three men behind Vancouver’s newest venture are all Canadian; Rice-Jones grew up in Kitsilano. His background is in personal training and martial arts, while Krish Sidhu is in the land development business and Brad Quevillon has a kinesiology degree.
But the motivation to open the store was deeply personal for Rice-Jones, who first realized the benefits of medical cannabis when his father was diagnosed with cancer.
Quevillon also found cannabis helpful when he injured himself playing basketball, and found it impossible to focus on his studies while taking the powerful prescription painkillers.
Rice-Jones is offering anyone with cancer or a terminal illness a discount on products once the store opens.
‘Hurry up and open!’
The three business partners first talked about the idea for the shop last year and began the application process as soon as the City made it possible.
Nine months later, they’re about to open, they have eight employees here – and their business licence is proudly displayed above their front door.
Rice-Jones says they’ve received both support and opposition from neighbours. Perhaps surprisingly, quite a few elderly people have been coming by to urge them to open soon.
“They say we need to hurry up and open! They’ve been very supportive,” he said.
“And then obviously, we’ve had some people who have concerns that once they speak to us, we mitigate.”
Competition is coming
Wealth Shop may not be alone very long – nine more medical marijuana dispensaries are now eligible to apply for a business licence, and two have already done so, says the City.
In addition, according to the latest figures, around 60 pot shops are still operating in Vancouver despite being told to close down.
But Rice-Jones says the competition doesn’t bother him.
“It’s about providing the best services we can. It’s about providing access to the best quality we can. It’s about providing access to health care.”
In fact, Rice-Jones says, they hope to open two more shops in Vancouver and have another shop ready to open in Toronto. He hopes to work with the City there to pass bylaws that will allow it.
Membership applications open
Applications for membership of the Wealth Shop are now open; Rice-Jones invites anyone thinking of applying for membership to come in to the store once it opens.
“We’ll be very informative, we have health practitioners who can diagnose if it’s the best course of action and go from there.
“If we can somehow provide what you need and it has nothing to do with medical cannabis, we are more than happy to do so.”
Anyone interested in becoming a member can access the application on the Wealth Shop website.
They must submit a completed medical application signed by a healthcare practitioner, proof of diagnosis and a government-issued ID.
The store will have a soft opening at noon on Thursday, followed by a grand opening on June 1, with regular hours being 10 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Here are some sneak peeks inside the store:
Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated that the Wealth Shop’s supplies were from an “above board third party in Canada,” this has since been amended to read “a ‘reputable’ third party in Canada” which the store believes more accurately reflects the situation.