NOVA Cannabis – Exclusive Sneak-Peek [Dispensary Review]

With cannabis legalization looming so closely on the horizon, this fall carries an air of excitement and (trepidation)  for Canada’s cannabis community. With all this buzz, came many questions from my readers about retail cannabis stores. ‘What will the prices be like?’ ‘What types of products will be available?’. So I was elated this weekend when I received an invitation to take an early look inside NOVA Cannabis’s Willow Park Village location in Calgary, Alberta to give my CannaFam the down-low before the shops officially open for business on October 17th.

Ambiance

The first thing you’re going to notice upon walking in the door of NOVA Cannabis is the super-cool rainbow entrance that changes colours throughout the day. The atmosphere of the shop is clean and open with a relaxing, zen-like decor that’s professional without looking too clinical. I was met with a friendly smile and a handshake from Alcanna VP Shelley Girard and introduced to Jerell Mananghaya, the resident cannabis experience specialist who gave me my tour around the shop.

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An inside look at NOVA Cannabis’s Willow Park Village location in Calgary, AB October 15, 2018

Staff

Jerell was super friendly and really knew his stuff when it came to cannabis and how to consume it so we had LOTS to talk about. He was happy to give me the full rundown of everything that will be going down at NOVA cannabis come opening day. He mentioned his background as a respiratory therapist, which I feel makes him the perfect kind of person to be on the front lines of legalization, educating people on how to consume their cannabis in a safe and effective manner.

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Cannabis experience specialist Jerell Mananghaya displays the Health Canada approved cannabis packaging for news crews at NOVA Cannabis. October 15, 2018

Products

I was incredibly impressed by the vast range of products NOVA cannabis will be carrying. Because dispensaries are only permitted to have 30 grams or less of product on the floor at a time, each one of the cards you see in the photograph below represents a different strain that they carry.

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Cards describing various cannabis strains line the walls at NOVA Cannabis. October 15, 2018

These cards work sort of like the paint sample cards you might find at a home renovation store, but for pot instead of paint. The cards are sorted by indica, sativa, and hybrid and contain information such as the producer, strain name, average cannabinoid and terpene content, and a little description. The cool thing about these cards is that you can take them home and use the blank space on the back to jot down your own personal experience with the strains you’ve purchased. The folks at NOVA cannabis understand that not all strains will have the same effect on everyone, so they’ll be encouraging their clientele to journal their experiences with a variety of strains.

While dispensaries aren’t permitted to keep more than 30 grams of cannabis on the floor at a time, and have to keep that product tethered to the counter, featured strains will be kept in these handy sensory cases that allow discerning cannabis consumers to see and smell a small sample of the product. (Pardon my finger in the photo).

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A sensory display case that allows cannabis to be displayed securely while allowing clientele to see and smell the product prior to purchase. October 15, 2018

While pre-made edibles and undiluted concentrates (aka “dabs”) wont be permitted on the market until sometime in 2019, cannabis consumers can purchase dried flower and edible, diluted oils from licensed producers come the big day on October 17th. Cannabis users are then permitted to process their legal purchases into edibles or concentrates for their own personal use at home. Regulations will allow cannabis to be sold in 1 and 3.5 gram increments, with larger increments looking hopeful in the near future.

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Cannabis ready for recreational sale in Health Canada approved packaging. (From left to right: Package of pre-rolled joints, a bottle of diluted concentrate oil, a single-gram package of bud and a multi-gram tub for dry bud). October 15, 2018

Cannabis retail outlets will also be stocking an array of methods to consume your cannabis from the standard joint-rolling accouterments to bongs, pipes, and even vaporizers. However, with limited smoking selections and their primary focus being on the herb itself, it’s fairly safe to say that cannabis retail locations won’t be putting your friendly, neighbourhood headshops out of business.

NOVA Cannabis is particularly excited to be a retailer for BRNT Designs, a company started by a U of A student while he used medical cannabis to recover from a head injury. BRNT Designs is most well known for their bong “The Hexagon” which boasts a sleek, modern aesthetic combined with unparalleled durability.

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A cabinet at NOVA Cannabis contains various smoking accessories, including The Hexagon: An innovative waterpipe from BRNT Designs. October 15, 2018

Pricing

While many folks are skeptical of the new legal market and how government regulation and taxation will affect the price of herb, I found the pricing at NOVA Cannabis to be incredibly reasonable with most strains pricing at about $9.00 per gram… But what truly took the cake for me was the fact that NOVA will be featuring two or three budget strains that rotate on a regular basis for under $8 per gram. I was incredibly surprised, knowing that dispensaries are expected to purchase the herb from the AGLC at a wholesale price of just over eight dollars per gram… so I asked if they were eating the difference in cost for their clients. The answer is that YES THEY ARE! “We can’t expect to take out the black market if we don’t make an effort to compete with street pricing,” said Jerell.  Look for Mango Haze and Strawberry Ice on the discount strain counter come opening day!

Location

NOVA Cannabis is located at 252-10816 McLeod Trail SE in Calgary, AB in the Willow Park Village business park. In this blogger’s opinion, this is probably THE BEST place to put a cannabis store, as there’s a great little Italian restaurant and a cupcake shop within walking distance… so when that pre-roll kicks in and the munchies strike, you aren’t far from finding yourself something tasty.

Make sure to visit NOVA Cannabis on opening day October 17th and celebrate legal cannabis with Jerell and the rest of the team!

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Author: Caelan Hart

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