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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Legion in Langford keeps things clean with hand sanitizer donation

Legion aims to draw in new members and volunteers

Victoria International Airport deemed the most efficient for its size

Ranking appears in a report comparing airports across three international areas

Driver slapped with $483 ticket for excessive speeding in Saanich construction zone

Police traffic unit reminds drivers to slow down in McKenzie interchange

Victoria police investigating chop-shop found in Beacon Hill Park

Police asking public to register bikes with them in case lost or stolen

Province expands substance use teams to address overdose crisis

People who use substances to have greater access to health care services

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 13

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

B.C. health officials pleased with likely extension of Canada-U.S. border closure

Health Minister Adrian Dix says the situation is ‘very serious in the United States’

Children suffer swollen eyes, burns while playing at Lower Mainland spray park

Mission RCMP are investigating incident that injured several children

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Beloved Island woman dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in Chemainus in two short years

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

Most Read