High on Vancouver Island, Port Hardy shop reflects on Year One

The friendly staff at Pacificanna are happy to help customers find new products at the Port Hardy store.

On the anniversary of Canadian legalization, Sandra Boyd took time to reflect on two years of growth in the cannabis industry.

“No one knew what was going to happen, or how it was going to go,” says Boyd. Overall, the manager of Pacificanna in Port Hardy has been impressed with the level of innovation in the booming industry. “The products they’re coming out with are just phenomenal! It’s obvious the producers have been thinking about it a long time.”

Gone are the days of smoking in a dark alley — BC residents can now choose from teas, powders, oils, gummies, lotions, bath products and more. Product availability varies by province, which means when the Port Hardy shop welcomes visitors from Alberta and Saskatchewan they’re excited to see the wide selection. And it’s not just product growth that has Boyd optimistic.

“It’s been really exciting to see the spinoffs as the industry expands and creates more jobs,” Boyd says, referring to the growers, artisans, budtenders and others populating the industry. Pacificanna Port Hardy is owned by Victoria-based Darren Saunders and his family, one of many small businesses seeing rapid expansion in the last two years.

Recycling program

Other aspects of the young industry have been slower to adapt. Customers were frustrated by the amount of packaging on products, but Boyd is happy to see more eco-friendly options now.

“At first it seemed like we’d opened up another world of plastic —there was so much waste. 16 months in the suppliers are listening!” Boyd says.

Pacificanna Port Hardy has also launched a popular recycling program to address the issue.

“Paper, plastic or cardboard: if it came with cannabis in it, bring it back for recycling.”

Starting a conversation

Boyd has been using cannabis for years to relieve chronic pain, and is happy to see conversations around cannabis have changed.

“It’s not easy for my generation, we didn’t talk about it. When I was growing up in the 70s and 80s I was taught to ‘just say no.’ Now we can actually have the conversations!”

At first she met customers who’d come in claiming they were ‘looking for a friend’ but now she welcomes all age groups, and even has visits from social workers and their clients.

“We make a point of listening, so we can provide useful suggestions,” Boyd says. “If someone’s coming in for medical marijuana I always say talk to your doctor. If your doctor says it’s a good fit, then get a prescription and come back to the store.”

Find Pacificanna Port Hardy at #2-7035 Market St., or online at pacificanna.ca. Pacificanna also has stores in Williams Lake and Victoria, with more locations in the works.