Dennis Schafer of Stick & Stone enters the nearly-complete building which he hopes will be open for non-medical cannabis sales within the next month. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

Cannabis stores in Fernie get green light, open in one month

Two cannabis stores in Fernie could be open for non-medical sales in one month’s time.

On July 15, after months of waiting, both Stick & Stone Cannabis and Summit Cannabis (formerly Compass Cannabis) received approval from the City of Fernie for a Non-Medical Cannabis Retail Store Licence.

“Council did approve us this morning, as well as Stick & Stone,” said Brian Jones with Summit Cannabis. “This is monumental, a little bit of history for Fernie.”

The application came before City of Fernie council Monday morning,

“Based on the parameters previously set out by Council it was a straightforward decision to recommend these two applications for approval by the Province,” said City of Fernie mayor Ange Qualizza in a statement.

“Pending Provincial approval, these applicants can apply for a business license just like anyone else in Fernie. For the community we could see a cannabis retail shop at either of these two locations,” she said.

Just before coming before the City of Fernie, the two groups had to complete their suitability checks with the Province. This was one of many hoops they have had to jump through since starting the approval process years ago.

Dennis Schafer with Stick & Stone Cannabis, a former City of Fernie councillor, said he was happy to be back in council chambers, and witness an iconic decision, from the other side of the horseshoe.

“It’s for the better, for Fernie,” he said.

“I had my kids there, I wanted them to witness history,” added Stick & Stone co-founder, SJ Nelson.

Schafer explained that they have been living in a ‘go-go-go’ mentality for the past 10 months, but paused for a moment on Monday to recognize the milestone and reminisce on how far they’ve come. He said they’re relieved to know that there is an end to the application process, but overall, said the government has been good to work with throughout the entire process.

“It’s just time consuming, and for them (the government) to do it correctly and properly, it does take time,” Schafer explained.

Many letters of support from members of the community were included in the Committee of a Whole agenda on Monday. This, Nelson and Schafer said, was encouraging to see.

These approvals will now go back before the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, who will write an approval in principal (AIP) which will allow both Dennis Schafer and SJ Nelson with Stick & Stone, and Jones with Summit to schedule inspections with the Liquor inspector who will ensure the premises are up to standard.

“Barring unforeseen failure of that, a few days later, up to four days later you can order your product and you should be open within a week after inspection,” said Jones.

In the meantime the groups will be working to acquire a PST number, a bank account, and more; all the things a real business needs.

Jones hopes to be open by early-August. Nelson and Schafer hope for the same.

Summit Cannabis Company is a new name which has replaced the name ‘Compass’ in Fernie. Jones explained that they left Starbuds the owner of Compass, to pursue acquiring a business licence as an independent company.

Jones and his partner, Josh Short, chose to start their own company because they found it difficult to get approval while being associated with a large chain such as Starbuds. Walking away from that was not an easy decision, Jones explained.

“For me mostly, because I had to leave all my medical patients behind,” he said.

Up until Jones left Starbuds, Compass Cannabis Clinic was operating as a medical cannabis clinic, which served a substantial number of local residents.

“That being said, the news on Monday we received with open arms.”

“It’s the best day I’ve had in quite a while,” said Jones.

 

Dennis Schafer and SJ Nelson of Stick & Stone Cannabis are excited to open their doors in what they hope will be one month’s time. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

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