Jim Leslie of Kootenay Cannabis Tree was first among legal cannabis stores to open up shop in Nelson. Only one has followed him so far. Photo: Tyler Harper

YEAR IN REVIEW: Legal cannabis stores finally open in Nelson

Our No. 4 story of 2019

Cannabis may be legal, but that didn’t make selling it any easier in Nelson.

Kootenay Cannabis Tree became the first recreational store to open in Nelson in November — over a year after cannabis was decriminalized in Canada — followed by Buddy’s Place in December.

And that’s it.

In February, the city approved three of four applications for stores in the city. Kootenay Cannabis Tree was given the one spot in the Lakeside/Industrial zone, while Nelson Potorium and The Green Room won a lottery to set up shop downtown’s two available locations.

That lottery system, which left Buddy’s Place on the outside looking in, was described as “cruel” by councillor Brittny Anderson.

“I think in some cases lotteries make sense, but that should have happened a long time ago, not when people have spent this much time, this much money, preparing, and then to suddenly be completely cut off,” said Anderson.

Buddy’s Place, which was formerly Leaf Cross and operates on Baker Street, was later given a three-year temporary use permit. Ironically, it is the only store downtown to have since opened. Nelson Potorium and The Green Room remain dark.

The city hasn’t had applicants for available locations in Railtown or on Nelson Avenue. What it did receive was an application from a group wanting to build an indoor cannabis facility in Railtown.

The Nelson Cannabis Collective was given a green light by the city in December to build a 1,810 square metre facility at 45 Government Rd. The privately owned company expects to employ up to 20 part-time and full-time people once it is operational.

Meanwhile, the last remaining medical dispensary was forced to close.

The Nelson Cannabis Compassion Club operated for 20 years, but in September it was ordered to shut down by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

Phil McMillan, who founded and ran the club, said the news was a tragedy for his over 1,000 members.

“Since this was announced, I’ve gone from having the world’s best job to my job [expletive] sucks,” he said. “Now every single day we’re bombarded with distraught and despairing members who are basically going, ‘What am I going to do without you?’”

That’s a question many are still waiting to be answered.

Related:

Nelson approves three recreational cannabis licences, rejects one

Kootenay pot producers stuck in the black market

No charges against former MMJ Canada employees

Nelson Cannabis Compassion Club to close down

Indoor cannabis facility proposed for Nelson

Community Futures launches cannabis consultation program

Nelson’s first cannabis store opens

Buddy’s Place opens as Nelson’s second cannabis store



tyler.harper@nelsonstar.com

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