October 17, 2018 2:34 pm
Updated: October 17, 2018 4:09 pm

What works, what doesn’t on Canada’s brand-new cannabis sales sites

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Residents of eight Canadian provinces woke up this morning — or stayed up last night — to see what their provincial governments were offering on their new cannabis sites. Here’s what we learned on a quick tour.

British Columbia

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Bccannabisstores.com had the best selection of dried flower we saw, at 97 varieties in stock. However, both sativa and indica gel caps were sold out when we looked, around noon Eastern time. (In general, provinces seem to have underestimated consumer demand for non-smoked forms of cannabis, judging by what’s already sold out.)

In common with other sites, B.C. tells you the terpenes in a product (chemicals that affect how it tastes and smells) but without explaining terms like “bisabolol” and “humulene,” at least in a way that’s easy to find. They do in most cases also give tasting information in plain English: Great White Shark, for instance, contains myrcene, “a mellowing terpene that is found in high quantities in mangoes and wild thyme, as well as hops, lemongrass, bay leaves, and citrus fruits.”

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B.C. will also let you select cannabis by the province it was produced in, as if it was wine, though it’s not clear why indoor-grown pot produced in Ontario and Alberta would be very different. More usefully, shoppers can select by brand, which not every province enables.

Not sure what you want? Go with the herd and sort by popularity, a useful feature no other province seems to have.

In common with other provinces’ sites, B.C. won’t let you order more than 30 grams of dried flower, or the equivalent in oil, and keeps track of your shopping cart to stay within federal limits. Put too much in, and you can’t check out until it comes out again.

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READ MORE: B.C. government launches online cannabis sales with some strains already sold out


Albertacannabis.org had stocked one kind of oil (sativa? indica? it doesn’t say) and it was sold out when we looked. There are no gel caps.

They do much better with dried flower, at 73 varieties, though many were sold out when we looked.

Alberta also makes you create an account just to look at their products.

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Ontario’s site, ocs.ca, had the most surprising product offering so far: Fleur de Lune Intimate Spray, “an easy-to-use THC-infused oil for intimate use,” yours for only $82.95.

Ontario won’t let you sort by producer (which would be useful) but does let you sort by terpene. But the shopper is given no guidance at all about what the terms mean. Here’s what that looks like:

Not sure what all that means? Don’t feel dumb: most aren’t even mentioned in cannabis reference books we keep around. If you click (for example) on “Geraniol,” you’ll end up being offered a dried flower called Ghost Train Haze, but without at any point finding out what “geraniol” means.

Ontarians were being offered 71 kinds of dried flower when we looked. The Ontario Cannabis Store also has probably the best selection of ingested (or otherwise administered in ways that don’t involve smoking) products we’ve seen, though sativa capsules were sold out Wednesday morning.

A major omission, though, is any indication at all of how much THC is in the Aurora cannabis gel caps the OCS sells, which is important information. (B.C. seems to have the same product, and they say their Aurora gel caps have 3 mg of THC per capsule, a mild dose which might be a good starting point to explore your preferences, but we shouldn’t have to cross-reference to another province’s site to learn that.)

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Quebec‘s gel caps are a lot stronger than B.C.’s , at 10 micrograms only – there’s no lower-dose option. If 10 micrograms turns out to be stronger than you wanted, you’re kind of stuck with the rest of the $44.90 bottle. (With smaller doses, you can always take two or three, if you’re comfortable scaling up, and with oil you can measure your own dose.)

For dried flower, Quebec has a smaller selection at 41 varieties, but the most useful search function we saw. The word “terpene” is nowhere to be seen, and shoppers can search by smell/flavour terms like “diesel” and “skunk,” as well as producer. On specific varieties, though, B.C. has much more thorough tasting information.

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New Brunswick

Cannabis-nb.com got some attention just before legalization with its careful explanation of how to roll a joint. (If this seems like too much effort, every site we saw offers pre-rolled joints.)

They also have useful educational pages on, for example, how to tell if your pot is stale.

However, Cannabis NB makes the same mistake Ontario did, asking consumers to choose their preferred terpene.

New Brunswick had no non-smoked options when we looked.

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P.E.I. lets you select from a menu of 23 different terpenes. If you live on the Island and have a hankering for “terpinolene,” PEI Cannabis has you covered. P.E.I. offers oil but no spray or capsules.

Nova Scotia

We’re not sure what Nova Scotia’s offering — to even look at their site, you have to go to a liquor store in the province, show your ID and be given a code. (Update: Global Maritimes tells us what they can see.)

READ MORE: Here is what the NSLC’s secure cannabis website looks like

Newfoundland and Labrador

shopcannabisnl.com is the only site we found that’s set up to sell live plants. (They’re “coming soon,” but still.)

Newfoundland at least plans to stock 39 different kinds of cannabis oil, which raises the question of how consumers should choose between them. Like Quebec, their gel caps actually for sale are 10 micrograms or nothing, though you can see from the site that they plan to stock 2.5s.

(We’re not going to say anything about the menu of 38 different terpenes.)

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What we learned

As far as their sites are concerned, B.C. has the best consumer information, and Quebec has the most useful search. In terms of available products, B.C. has the best selection of dried flower — Ontario is best for non-smoked cannabis.

And everybody needs to explain terpenes better.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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