Vancouver Island cannabis dispensary marks one-year anniversary with $5,000 donation to Indigenous youth group

Green Coast Dispensary is located on the Pacific Rim Highway in Port Alberni. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)

The Alberni Valley’s Green Coast Dispensary celebrated its one-year anniversary Aug. 6 with a community barbecue and the announcement of a $5,000 donation to the Hupacasath Youth Group.

Green Coast Dispensary is owned by Rudy Watts, a member of the Tseshaht First Nation, and is managed by Graham Sayers, a member of the Hupacasath First Nation. The two met on the water during fishing trips and Sayers eventually joined Green Coast after leaving a career in fishing.

By virtue of being on their land, Green Coast’s operations have an impact on the Hupacasath. In order to ensure that the shop would not cause undue harm to the community, Green Coast consulted with the chief of the Hupacasath for approximately six months prior to the shop’s opening.

Prior to the shop’s opening on Hupacasath territory, Green Coast consulted with the First Nation’s chief and council for approximately six months.

“We wanted (our dispensary) to be something that could add to the community,” Sayers said. “So we made sure we were in constant communication with the leaders of our community.”

The donation will be used to improve campsites around the Hupcasath reserve and to fund trips for children in the youth group.

“Originally, the youth group only had one trip planned and now they have three,” Sayers said.

The team at Green Coast has been in the cannabis industry for approximately six years. For two years prior to their opening in Port Alberni, they operated exclusively as a home-delivery service. Before that, they had another shop under the same name on the Alberni Highway.

Green Coast recently expanded, opening a second location in Qualicum Bay. Similar to the Port Alberni location, the dispensary had significant consultations with the Qualicum First Nation’s chief and council.

“We want to have a similar impact in Qualicum,” Sayers said.

While the charitable actions of the dispensary are providing value to its communities, the members of Green Coast also firmly believe in the positive impacts of cannabis use.

“We’re not just a pot shop,” Sayers said. “We’re helping people…we’re giving medicine to people and they swear by it.”

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