What to expect at Quebec’s pot stores on Wednesday

What to expect as cannabis stores set to open in Quebec
WATCH: Quebec pot stores are set to open at 10am on Wednesday -- but the SQDC offered up a sneak peek to the media Tuesday as they get ready to greet the public. Global's Billy Shields has more.

It was a packed house at the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC) store on St-Hubert Street in Montreal Tuesday morning.

The SQDC, the province’s cannabis stores operator, offered a sneak peek to reporters, ahead of the official opening Wednesday — when recreational cannabis becomes legal across the country.

The Saint-Hubert location is one of three Montreal stores set to open its doors on Wednesday at 10 a.m.

The two other stores are located at 970 Ste-Catherine St. West and 9250 de l’Acadie Blvd.

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Down to the wire for cannabis stores in Quebec
Down to the wire for cannabis stores in Quebec

In a news release, the SQDC said stores reflect the organization’s mission of educating the public without encouraging cannabis consumption.

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The stores are divided into three zones – the welcome area, the consultation zone and the storage area. They were specifically designed to “promote the safety of clients and advisers, as well as to disseminate information about education and counselling.”

Unlike liquor stores — run by the SQDC’s sister corporation the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) — products in cannabis stores will not be on full display.

Upon entering the store, clients are ushered into the welcome area where their age is validated. Products aren’t visible from this zone.

Under current Quebec law, the legal age of consumption is 18 years old.

READ MORE: ‘It’s terrible what cannabis can do to youth’: CAQ promises to raise marijuana legal age if elected

However, the incoming Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government has said it wants to raise the legal age to 21.

The heart of the store, as described by the SQDC, is the consultation zone. This space is dedicated to serving clients and offering advice and dispensing information.

READ MORE: Trudeau says CAQ plan to raise cannabis legal age to 21 could promote organized crime

Products in this area are available over-the-counter, much like a pharmacy, with trained advisers helping customers make informed and responsible choices.

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The storage area is the third and final zone and access is restricted.

What exactly can you buy at the pot store?

A plethora of products, with names like Tangerine Dream and Great White Shark, lined the shelves of the St-Hubert Street store.

More important than the name is to know what you’re buying. Three different strains of cannabis will be for sale including indica, sativa and hybrid.

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Each strain has different effects, levels of THC and different aromas including lemon, skunk, spicy and diesel, to name a few.

Clients will be able to choose between dried flowers, ground cannabis, pre-rolled, oil, oral atomizers or pills.

Quebec has priced products starting at $5.25 a gram, taxes included.

What you won’t find however are edibles as per provincial and federal regulations.

Other restrictions include a maximum 30-gram purchase per visit unless you’re buying online from home. Quebecers can have up to 150 grams of cannabis in their home and can carry a maximum of 30 grams outside their home.

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McGill study shows lasting effects of pot
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In Montreal, cannabis smoke is banned in most places tobacco smoking is banned, but different municipalities might have different bylaws.

In addition to the 12 stores opening across the province, the corporation will begin offering online sales Wednesday.

Officials say they hope their merchandising will cut into the black market for cannabis without encouraging consumption.

— With files from the Canadian Press