Cannabis plans dominate NSLC talks at legislature – Halifax

The Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation has begun transforming a handful of their retail locations to make room for marijuana, though staff training on the soon-to-be-legal drug hasn’t yet begun.

In fact, that training framework hasn’t even been finalized.

“It’s still very new, we’re in the process of building the curriculum now,” explained NSLC CEO Brett Mitchell. “We have our own in-house training and it’ll be a part of those components and that curriculum.”

READ MORE: Nova Scotia announces three more NSLC outlets that will sell cannabis

Currently, NSLC employees are provided with training on a number of job-related facets: asking for identification, theft, as well as customer service.

Wine experts, as they’re known, are called on by customers for all sorts of bubbly-related brain-busters.

Mitchell indicated previous knowledge, or use, of cannabis, won’t be a prerequisite for staff who could be transferred to alcohol-only locations if opposed to the incoming plant.

“It’s definitely going to be a different environment than we have with our retail product specialists and the wine experts,” he said. “There will not be any in-store sampling happening but we do expect the staff in there to be knowledgeable enough about the product that they can facilitate a safe consumption of the product by consumers when they leave the store.”

The estimated number of new full-time positions created by cannabis is 85.

In preparation of becoming the legal retailer of recreational marijuana, the NSLC has made a number of other estimates to go on as well.

They expect their biggest locations will contain approximately 300 different products, smaller ones will boast around 150 and their online capabilities are estimated in the 450 range.

Estimates put their sales breakdown at 60 per cent in-store purchases and the remaining 40 from their website, which will also provide education on marijuana.

12-million grams sold in the first year is the expected figure, with 7,500 transactions completed between the two delivery models daily.

“Even with the announcement yesterday of adding three additional stores to the mix of those that will sell cannabis, there’s still a lot of gaps in the province,” said NDP MLA Dave Wilson, citing Cape Breton and other more rural areas in his assessment.

“If we look past day one and maybe even phase one, we should be on a plan that’s sustainable,” said PC MLA Tim Houston.

WATCH: Nova Scotia landlords want ability to deny cannabis use in apartments

“We’re going to have cannabis-infused drinks, edibles, all these things take up shelf space,” he went on. “Have all these things been thought through? Or are we going to be a province that sells it in a special room at the NSLC for a year only to find out, well, ‘This isn’t going to work.’”

Mitchell did say they have made plans to ensure marijuana’s strong smell doesn’t permeate through their stores by keeping all product in sealed bags and ensuring they have proper ventilation systems to offset any aroma present.

But facing a significant staffing shortage hasn’t forced a change in policy surrounding prohibiting those with past criminal charges from becoming an NSLC employee, at least not yet, even those who might’ve received those charges due to laws that will soon cease to exist.

“We would have to change that policy in order to facilitate if we’re going to allow it,” Mitchell said.

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