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Cannabis craziness in Yellowknife

The wait outside the liquor store, the only physical location selling cannabis in the capital, started at 6 a.m. this

morning with resident Justin Melville at front.

"I'm not really a big user, I'm here for the novelty of it really," said Melville. "Life is a series of stories so I wanted to be a part of this one."

By 5:30 p.m. the store had sold out of it's entire stock of 2880 ounces of cannabis. Robert C. McLeod, Minister of Finance, told the legislature on Wednesday that the NWT had sold $5,000 of cannabis through both the online store and brick and mortar shops.

Justin Melville, examines the first legally purchased Cannabis in the territory. Dylan Short/NNSL photo
Justin Melville, examines the first legally purchased Cannabis in the territory. Dylan Short/NNSL photo

Melville was joined by close to 25 people in line once the store's doors opened at 11 a.m. By 11:30.

"We ended 95 years of stupidity."
That's what Kam Lake MLA Kieron Testart had to say while watching the close to 50 patrons looking to get their hands on cannabis inside the uptown Liquor Store.

Ed Eggenberger, the owner of the shop, had to lock the doors to control the flow of people looking to buy the two different strains of pot available, Zombie Kush and Banana Split. The store will be selling the strains as flowers or as pre-rolled joints with quantities ranging from one to seven grams.

Melville won the race once inside to be the first person to complete a purchase of cannabis when he bought 14 grams of Zombie Kush and 14 grams of Banana Split. The Zombie Kush comes in seven gram containers and sells for $72.11. Banana Split is sold by the gram at $13.80. Thirty grams is the maximum amount of cannabis one person is allowed to possess at a time.

"I'm gonna keep one of them as a memory and the rest I'll probably share with some friends," said Melville. "It's a part of history."

In line behind Melville was pot activist Kim MacNearney waiting patiently to buy her first legal cannabis after advocating for the legalization of marijuana for the past nine years.

"I feel amazing. It's like a dream I can't believe it's reality," said MacNearney as she examined her purchase. "I thought it would be medical only for a long long time but to have it totally legal I didn't expect that. It's been an amazing push for a lot of people. I'm so happy it's here."

While the mood inside the store was one of jubilation and excitement, early hours of legalization did come with a few hiccups. In addition to the mad rush, the point of sale system didn't immediately recognize the newly-legalized products.

"It's been incredibly busy this morning, we've even had to lock the doors just to slow the traffic down. We've had some issues with scanning the bar codes. They aren't working exactly as they should and it's slowing down the till," said Eggenberger. "Getting used to the different products so we can pick the right product for the right customer has been an issue."

However, Eggenberger said it is a learning process anytime a business introduces a new product and that his store would work to smooth out all the wrinkles. One of those wrinkles moving forward could be the well-documented struggle of matching supply with demand stores across the country are facing. Eggenberger knew it was a matter of time before his store was sold-out and that they will would be re-stocked as early as Thursday morning.

"It's going to happen, so we'll just have to deal with it when it happens," he said.

Eggenberger said that liquor sales at the store had been virtually non-existent throughout day one of legalization.

Banana Split and Alien Kush are the two strands currently available at the Liquor Shop in Yellowknife. Dylan Short/NNSL photo
Banana Split and Zombie Kush are the two strands currently available at the Liquor Shop in Yellowknife. Dylan Short/NNSL photo

Eggenberger's store is also well supplied with cannabis paraphernalia, ranging from pipes and bongs to rolling papers and grinders. Kam Lake MLA Kieron Testart arrived at the store shortly before noon to see what the store had to offer and while he was happy that prohibition had ended, he was still skeptical with how legalization was rolled out in the city.

"It doesn't surprise me that there's this much interest. We saw the numbers early on that Yellowknife is enjoying their cannabis," said Testart. "But I think selling it here is a mistake. This co-location of alcohol and cannabis is not good policy and I still oppose it but it's what we have now."

Testart said he also has concerns with the restrictions that surround the price of cannabis, restrictions around public consumption of cannabis and the amount of red tape that will surround private sales. He noted that if he is still in office after the 2019 territorial election he will look to improve the system in a year's time.

"I look forward to being able to change this in a year if I am lucky enough to be re-elected," said Testart. "You can't use it outdoors, you can't use it indoors, where can you use it? We're setting up people for legal jeopardy that they don't deserve. We need to come to grips with this as a society and this is the first day of that process."



Meanwhile the online GNWT store found at went live at 12:02 a.m. selling six different strains of cannabis. the Strains range from $13.30 for a gram of Alien Dawg to $53.87 for three and a half grams of Rockstar. The strains come with a variety of descriptions resembling those found on fine wines.

"Ideal for indica lovers with a lovely combination of sweet and spice" reads the posting for Rockstar.

The website offers seven day expedited shipping and four day express post shipping for $12.47 and $14.92 respectively. Those options become available after you have registered your name and email with an account on the website. Proof of age is required when picking up an order of cannabis. The website had 122 registered customers and 37 sales when McLeod addressed the legislature Wednesday.

By end of day, Wednesday a spokesperson with the Department of Finance said that a number of strains were in limited supply on the online store.