When October 17th rolled around, I was so excited. That was the day marijuana finally become legal in Canada. No more buying weed in alleyways or out of half-opened car windows. Now I would able to shop in a friendly store, use my credit card and walk down the street, rolling a joint. This was huge.
I did what every other curious and weed-deprived Canadian did that day, head over to the closest cannabis store to buy some legal weed. I asked “Alexa” where the closest store was and she told me there was one just 20 minutes away in a strip mall on Yonge Street.
It was shortly before noon when I arrived at Higher Solutions. Actually, I was a block away from the store because that’s how long the lineup was to get in. This was longer than the lineups to get into Best Buy on Black Friday.
Gazing down the line, I saw all types of Canadians – businessmen, soccer moms, seniors, my barber Vince, it was inspirational. I tapped the shoulder of the woman in front of me. She was holding several bags of groceries. I guess she was in line for an after dinner indulgence.
“Any idea how long this line is?” I asked.
She answers without looking up from her phone, “about an hour according to the person at the door.”
“I’m texting my friend who’s in line at Smoking Leaves on Bayview Avenue. She says the line there is longer.”
“Damn,” I said. “Didn’t think they would be this busy.”
I settled in for a long wait. I pulled out my phone and checked out the store’s inventory. There were over a hundred strains. How do you begin to decide what to buy?
I got bored with flipping through the inventory and began posting photos of the lineup on Instagram. Every so often an excited person would walk by holding a brown paper bag. They would shout encouragement to those of us still in line.
It was over an hour by the time I reached the front of the line. Two security guards stood by the doors eyeballing the line. I noticed a sign on the door that indicated that all customers would need to provide photo ID as proof of age. An older woman carrying a pricey Burberry handbag walked out the door. One of the guards directed me inside.
I stood in awe as I entered the store. The walls were lined with glass mason jars with beautiful green buds. The aroma in the stored was overpowering. A short woman in a green uniform stepped forward to greet me.
“Welcome to Higher Solutions,” she said. “Have you been here before?”
An odd questions considering it was their first day of operations. I shook my head. “Isn’t it opening day?”
“Well technically it is,” she said. “But we’ve been operating a dispensary at this location for the past 18 months, but under another name.”
So do you know what you’re looking for?” she asked.
“Not really,” I said. “It’s been sometime since I last bought weed.”
“Let me help you narrow it down. Are you interested in an energy boost, creative thinking, chilling out, pain management, a sleep aid, or dealing with anxiety?”
“Hmm, didn’t realize there would be so many options,” I said scratching my chin. “I’m a writer so I’ll go with creative thinking.”
“Okay, you’ll be looking at Sativa strains,” she said. “Wait in the line at the purple counter until someone is free.”
I walked over and stood in another line. This was starting to remind me what it’s like to have my government health card renewed. A few minutes later I was at the counter. A man in a green polo shirt with the name of the store monogrammed on it. He had a neatly trimmed beard and smiled as I approached.
“What can I get for you, sir?”
“I’m interested in some weed that will help me with creative thinking.”
“Excellent,” he said as he reached to grab a few jars off the shelf behind him. “I have a few here to consider.”
He flips open the top of one jar. “This is Sour Diesel. It’s fast-acting and gives a great cerebral high.”
He waves his hand over the top of the jar until the pungent odour reaches my nostrils.
“Wow, that smells awesome.”
He opens another jar and does the same. “This is Golden Goat known for its unbeatable tropical flavor and uplifting body high and my personal favourite.”
I nod approvingly.
“My other recommendation is Lemon Skunk, known for its sociable high and sweet, tangy flavour.”
I inhale the aroma and smile. “They all seem great. But I think I’ll go with the first one.”
“An excellent choice,” says the clerk as he puts away the other jars. “How much were you looking to purchase? The product sells for $11.75 per gram.”
“Ouch! Give me 5 grams. I’ll see what I think of it.”
The clerk grabs a scale and measures out exactly 5 grams and places it into a plastic container. “I just need to see your photo ID.”
“Sure,” I say and pull out my government health card from my wallet and hand it over.
He looks at it and hands it back. “I’m sorry but we don’t accept health cards because they don’t have your age. I’ll need your driver’s license.”
“I don’t drive. Besides look at me, I’m 44 years old. Do I look like a teenager?”
“Our policy is to ID everyone. We don’t presume to know or guess at people’s ages.”
“I’ve been waiting in line forever.”
“I’m sorry sir, that is our policy.”
“But I have photo ID.”
“We need something with your age.”
“Look I’ve been waiting since the age of 16 to buy pot legally and I want to buy it now!”
“Please don’t raise your voice or I’ll have to call security over.”
“Well just sell me my pot!”
The clerk turns around and presses a red button on the wall. Seconds later, two large fellows drag me away from the counter. I struggle to get loose to now avail. The next thing I know I’m back outside eyeballing the lineup in front of the store.
I pull out my phone. “Hey Dan are you still selling? Awesome. You got any Sour Diesel? $8.50 a gram. Nice. I’ll meet you in the usual spot.”