By early fall, a strip mall by the Superstore in Courtenay will be home to one of the province’s 17 new government-run cannabis stores.

Others on the island will open in Campbell River and Port Alberni. So far, the first and only store in BC that the others will be based on is in Kamloops.

“We definitely wanted to iron out some kinks,” said Jamie Martin, regional manager of the cannabis division of the BC Liquor Distribution Branch. “We were legalizing cannabis, it was a new business, a new brand and we wanted to make sure that we got it right.”

The people working in them need to be right as well and dozens of people lined up in Courtenay Monday to apply for 17 positions from store manager to part-time and auxiliary consultants.

“It’s a solid government job but I also feel there are certain values to cannabis use,” said John Cowan who was applying for a job. “I know from my personal experience it’s helped me and I’ve seen it work well with a number of other people.”

Similar job fairs have attracted a wide range of people.

“I would say, anybody, you know a mom coming back from maternity leave, somebody who is currently employed, a professional, people looking to get back into the workforce,” said Martin.

“I think I’m knowledgeable to know what the customer would need in percentage wise of THC and what they would need for CBD, they could come to me with their health problems,” said Casandra Ewasiuk who attended the job fair.

Product knowledge is described as an asset for those applying, knowledge that may have come when cannabis was illegal however those applying seemed willing to discuss what they knew.

“You know people were kind of shy talking about what they knew or just didn’t feel comfortable but now that that oppression is lifted I think it’s a great time for that to start happening,” said Michael Wright.

“We’re here to sell cannabis so I want to hear about it all,” added Martin. “I share my experiences and people tend to open up once you do that.”

There are still no plans for a government store in Victoria due to ongoing zoning issues.

Dean Stoltz