Nestled within Squires Four Public House on Stickle Road, Highlander Cannabis quietly opened its doors to the public June 1.
Pub and liquor store owner for the past 12 years, Serry Massoud said the move into the world of legalized recreational cannabis made sense for the location and he’s excited to see where the new industry will take him.
“Now people can buy their wine, have a lunch and get their cannabis in one place,” Massoud said.
Massoud’s application was the Regional District of North Okanagan’s first for a retail cannabis store. The Electoral Area Advisory Committee reviewed the application and held a public hearing in the fall of 2019.
“The RDNO was fantastic,” Massoud said, noting the frustrations came with the six-month waiting period to obtain licensing and security.
Massoud said he took Highlander Cannabis in a different direction than many of his competitors.
“I wanted to create a comfortable atmosphere,” he said. “We have skylights, wood…”
“‘It feels like a living room,’” Massoud quoted his daughter.
Business has been steady, Massoud said, likely due to liquor store customers’ curiosity and the reputation of the very knowledgeable store manager, Carla.
She came as a recommendation, Massoud said. Here, she can provide customers with the ins-and-outs of products and equipment.
Similar to a sommelier, Carla’s expertise is in cannabis product.
Massoud said his store manager can ensure customers are connected with a product that is right for them, and as all the cannabis is lab-grown, customers can expect the same quality every time they purchase it.
He said the same can’t be expected in the black market and at unlicensed retail outlets in the area.
“I would like to see those regulated,” he said.
As retail cannabis stores are becoming more common in the Greater Vernon Area and North Okanagan as a whole, Massoud said the stigma surrounding the once illegal drug is shrinking.
“People will look at it differently than they used to,” he said, “now that it’s not underground.”
In comparison to his successful liquor store business, Massoud said the clientele in Highlander is surprisingly different. He said the two products, although often compared, are drastically different.
Massoud said he is excited to see where the cannabis industry goes in the future, but for now, he’s eager to watch his business grow while he continues to meet new and different people.