It’s been a long time coming

Published on July 1, 2019 by David Wylie

He's number 1!

Kiel Richer was the first person to buy legal cannabis in the Okanagan.

“It’s pretty exciting,” he says.

Spiritleaf in Vernon opened on Canada Day at 9 a.m., ending the Okanagan’s eight-month retail weed drought.

Richer, who is a longtime friend of owners Sarah and Carson Ballantyne, wanted to show his support.

“It’s very helpful to have something so close to home and buy locally, supporting local entrepreneurs,” he says.

He bought one gram orders of Donegal from Tweed, Great White Shark from San Rafael ’71 and Mountain Kush from Peak Leaf.

“You know exactly what you’re getting is the big thing with me, especially with sativa or indica,” he says, adding the legal industry has credible labelling.

“You get exactly what you pay for.”

While Spiritleaf is a national retail franchise, the friendly neighbourhood cannabis store is owned and operated by local Vernon residents.

Didn’t happen overnight

“We’ve been at it for about a year,” says Carson. “We’re looking forward to providing quality cannabis and cannabis products to the great people of the Okanagan.”

He’s enjoyed meeting people and seeing how positive they are about legalization.

“There was a bit of stigma around it,” he says, but people are seeing the benefits. “You know where your product comes from. It’s tested. It comes from state-of-the-art facilities. What you buy is as advertised. There’s no grey area anymore.”

Up Cannabis, which is partly owned by the Tragically Hip, has a stake in Spiritleaf. That means the store carries exclusive strains from Up.

He says he’s a huge Tragically Hip fan and was ecstatic when they announced the partnership.

“We’re super excited. It’s a career change for the both of us. We’ve always been passionate about the cannabis industry so it’s nice to be involved in a big way,” he says.

“I can’t believe it happened.”

Of course, we bought our own…

Spiritleaf’s second customer was the oz.’s very own, David Wylie, who bought three strains from Up — Meridian, Gems and Moon. Look for the reviews in upcoming newsletters.

The store is located at 102-2500 53rd Ave. in Vernon.