Staff at Earth to Sky Cannabis in Sooke work feverishly to get the store ready for their Aug. 30 grand opening. (Tim Collins/Sooke News Mirror)

Cannabis companies ramp up marketing

Stigma still associated with the product, say Sooke business owners

The legalization of cannabis has created a new approach to the sale of the product, and it’s a change for the better, says Ian Laing, the owner of Earth to Sky Cannabis in Sooke.

“Discrimination against cannabis is based on long-standing and ill-informed beliefs about cannabis that are going to take some time to overcome,” he said.

“That’s why we’re taking a very professional and well-informed approach to our operation. It’s an approach that we think will help to change the way people think about our product.”

It’s an approach that mirrors the marketing strategy that Riverside Cannabis, Sooke’s first licensed cannabis shop, has already implemented.

“This is a legal product that we’re selling and we know that our customers are getting used to the legal outlets and we’re doing our best to help educate our customers as they come out of the grey and black markets” said Lori Rittaler the owner of Riverside Cannabis.

“We also have people who are trying it for the first time, so there’s a real mixed bag out there and we need to find a way of answering all their questions.”

Amanda Sannella, the manager of Earth to Sky, is eager to implement a professional approach to marketing the newly legalized product.

RELATED: Illegal operations raided

“The biggest opportunity that we have involves customers who come in after having dealt with illegal suppliers and who are looking for a comparable legal product,” Sannella said.

“They want something like the product they’re used to and we can help them do that while being able to guarantee that they are actually getting what they think they are getting. In illegal operations, you could never be certain of that. It was a huge risk.”

But just like at the Riverside store, Sannella said it isn’t just long-term users of cannabis that come through the door.

“We see a wide range of customer profiles coming to our door, asking when we’ll be open,” Sannella said. (The store has since opened.)

“But it’s going to take a while for us to overcome some of the stigma associated with our products. I think that when edibles are made legal (promised for mid-December) as well as concentrates and even topicals (that are in a cream form that is absorbed through the skin) you’ll see people becoming more educated and comfortable with the product.”

A new aspect of that education comes as the licensed producers now employ what Laing calls cannabis sommeliers. These product representatives travel to cannabis outlets to educate the staff about the differences in various cannabis products.

“It’s not unlike the liquor (company) reps who go to liquor stores to promote their products and answer questions about the options that exist,” Sannella said.

Mike Stewart is one of those representatives. He is the product representative and sales manager for Aurora Cannabis, one of the country’s legal cannabis producers.

“I go around and make sure that all the stores have what they need and that the ‘budtenders’ have all the information they need to sell the product,” Stewart said.

Stewart acknowledged, however, a stigma is still attached to cannabis use.

“In the past cannabis users were sometimes seen as pot heads, lazy and not as intelligent as other people. That’s an unfair characterization,” Stewart said.

“Cannabis users are just normal people who might want to unwind at the end of the day, in the same way as someone using alcohol might have a glass of wine or a beer.”

He said there have always been a lot of cannabis users and that they are now free to come out of the closet.

“As far as the attitudes and stigma, well that will pass with time. No one is really focusing on that right now.”

Still, Rittaler said the stigma associated with cannabis use persists and it’s more than a little is off-putting.

“This is the end of prohibition and there is still a stigma out there that has developed over a number of decades,” she said.

“Let’s hope that running professional outlets helps with that. It won’t happen overnight.”

RELATED: First legal cannabis in Sooke

Laing, too, is hopeful that attitudes will change as knowledge and understanding about cannabis improve.

“For now, it’s an uphill climb. I still can’t get a single bank branch in Sooke to accept my account. The only bank I’ve managed to work with is the Bank of Montreal, but that means that I have to drive my deposits into Langford. That’s something that needs to change.”



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Oak Bay United preparing entirely new development application

Three scenarios being considered for Granite Street redesign

Reynolds Secondary principal pens letter to parents after student involved in fatal crash

Various supports available to students, staff and community

Latin American film fest celebrates 10 years of storytelling on screen

Festival runs Sept. 17-22, features works from Mexico, Paraguay, Argentina, Peru and Spain

Victoria police arrest man at gunpoint for allegedly assaulting two people with a knife

The man was arrested Monday night after in incident in the 900-block of Pandora Ave.

Sidney’s Star Cinema puts on the ritz for Downton Abbey

Special screening of the aristocractic period piece marks theatre’s 21st anniversary

WATCH: United Way #Drive4Five event launches campaign to raise $5 million

More than 80,000 lives changed last year by the United Way

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Rick Mercer calls out Conservative candidate in B.C. for fake meme

‘Not true. All fake. Please Stop,’ tweeted Rick Mercer in response

Bear killed in Kimberley after chasing girl, wreaking havoc on town

This particular brown-coloured bear has been the subject of many calls this summer; very food habituated, CO says

Vancouver Island man bikes through B.C. Interior for mental health, addiction awareness

Vancouver Island Resident Mat Fee is approaching the final phase of his cross-Canada bike journey to raise awareness about addiction recovery.

Boy overdosed on illicit anti-anxiety drug found on Kelowna classroom floor, RCMP say

Noah Mills, 8, ingested a pink powdery substance off his Kelowna classroom floor

BC SPCA investigating after three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

Psychiatric assessment ordered for man accused in Salmon Arm church shooting

Lawyer tells court accused was diagnosed with psychosis hours after his arrest

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Most Read