A Vancouver Island community’s first cannabis retail store had its first day of business on Saturday, but it already has a number of innovative ideas on the way.
The store in Colwood, B.C., is one of three Costa Canna retailers on Vancouver Island, which are co-owned by Cowichan Tribes and a number of other partners.
On Jan. 5, Cowichan Tribes became the second B.C. First Nation to enter into a one-year agreement with the province, allowing it to both grow and sell cannabis – something that is normally restricted to prevent industry monopolies.
For now, cannabis products grown by Cowichan Tribes are only allowed to be sold in their on-reserve store in Duncan. But, soon they hope to be able to sell both theirs and other First Nations’ products across all their stores. Just like any other regulated cannabis producer, Costa Canna must sell their product to the B.C. Liquor and Cannabis Distribution Branch. The only difference is that they also get to buy it back.
“Our goal is to have that recognition as an equal government and jurisdiction within our territory,” Jodee Dick, economic development advisor for Cowichan Tribes, said. She noted that the pandemic has taken a significant toll on their revenue stream and that getting into the cannabis business will mean much-needed support for their community.
The focus of the stores, Costa Canna president Phil Floucault explained, is on knowledge transfer of the products to the customer.
This shared vision of health and wellness is why Cowichan Tribes chose to partner with Floucault, Dick said.
To that end, Floucault said they have a number of products in the works that will target inflammation and insomnia without giving users a high.
Colwood Mayor Rob Martin attended the grand opening to help cut the ribbon and wish the cannabis retailer success.
“I believe sincerely that the community will embrace you,” he said.