Our speakers for today were introduced by Michelle Chatten-Fiedorec.  Joanne Castles is the store manager of Northern Helm Cannabis, Kingston, and David Côté, is the founder of Northern Helm and COO of J. Supply Holdings.
Joanna and David attended by Zoom, to talk about their experiences managing Northern Helm, a local cannabis retailer.  Their main points follow:
- October 17, 2018 was the first day of legalization, and they saw customers ranging from age 19 to 91 on the day they opened.
- There have been a lot of changes over the last four years, mainly because they started with so many unknowns.  In the beginning, they thought they would be able to define the average cannabis consumer but that isn’t possible, as there is no such profile, and consumer tastes have been shifting.
- E-commerce started out as a sideline of their business, but the pandemic changed that.
- Ontario and Alberta are soon going to be over saturated with stores, so some will inevitably close, but that is a feature of a mature market.
Joanna is the manager of the Kingston location of Northern Helm.  Although she formerly had access to medical marijuana, she found the store to be a unique experience.  The pandemic impacted their business, leading to more online shopping and product delivery.  Some customers are really new to the industry.  Some of their products are helping people with PTSD.  There is a long-standing stigma associated with the illicit market.  Something that never existed before legalization was customer service input.
- A regulated market has resulted in consistent products, but cannabis reacts differently in different people even though they are using exactly the same product.
- The way the market functions, was explained.  Producers sell their products to The Ontario Cannabis Store, which is much like the LCBO.  Individual stores order from them.
- Mixed support is received from the medical profession.  Some physicians are pro-cannabis, but don’t make specific recommendations to their patients.  Others, won’t discuss the subject.  Their involvement is hampered by the fact that there has not been money for any longitudinal studies.  Northern Helm’s focus is on recreational cannabis.
- It is interesting to note that share prices in various publicly traded companies peaked two days before legalization, and since then they have been up and down and appear to be cyclical.
John Gale thanked our speakers.