This week I ventured into a cannabis store for the first time. As a 45 year old mother of one and a new member of the team at Flower & Freedom I have been learning a lot about the myriad of ways cannabis can be consumed. I was particularly curious to observe the various non-psychoactive and non-smoking alternatives offered in cannabis stores throughout Vancouver.
I’m a healthy and very active person and my visit wasn’t to obtain medical cannabis, nor would I consider myself a recreational consumer of cannabis either. However, I am very curious about CBD products, particularly those that are mixed with other ingredients – such as arnica and eucalyptus in the case of topicals – and why someone might opt for a cannabis based alternative to treat ailments like muscle soreness. Mostly I wanted to see what it was like to be in a cannabis store.
As I mentioned I’m not a regular cannabis consumer, but I recognize the importance of the conversation around cannabis, particularly with legalization around the corner. In my short time with Flower & Freedom I have been astounded by the tsunami of products that will soon become available legally in Canada. There are alternatives for pain, sleep, arthritis and muscle recovery, pretty much every ailment I have from raising a child and playing competitive sports.
In some ways it seems too incredible that one plant can do all of this, and while the jury may be out on some claims, it seems to me that soon we will all have the opportunity to find out for ourselves whether or not cannabis has a place in our lives along with other medicinal herbs like echinacea, goldenseal, lavender and chamomile.
So with that in mind I visited Aura Cannabis on Kingsway with a colleague to see if I could find a cannabis product that would fit into my fitness plan. The first thing that struck me is that this was definitely not like the Cannabis stores that I had peered at from my car on my urban drive-by’s, marijuana buds blasted all over the front entrance, interspersed with medicinal symbols.
The exterior of Aura is minimalistic, and entirely clean of overbearing signage. Inside I felt like I was walking into a spa. The space was pristine and crisp white with the scent of essential oils wafting through the air. One deep breathe and I was ready to lay back and put cucumbers slices on my eyes. There was the slightest hint of cannabis in the air but considering how potent the smell of the plant can be I was surprised how little of it I could smell.
Unfortunately part of the store was under renovation, but even then it’s worth mentioning that it is extremely well kept and well-merchandised, with an inviting layout. When you enter the merchandising area, directly to the right are the tinctures, sublingual sprays, balms, salves, pet treats and more. To the left is the cannabis flower, a small collection of smoking paraphernalia, as well as very sophisticated set of vapourizers.
Occasionally products had helpful names such as ‘Heal’, ‘Calm’, or ‘Anxiety’, but mostly, if you’re not familiar with cannabis products, you would have to ask what each product could be used for.
The flower is cleverly presented in clear containers with magnified windows, giving those with knowledge of cannabis flower an opportunity to examine it closely, for the rest of us it’s a good opportunity to just say ‘wow, neat!’
Each flower strain is categorized in one of three ways; Indica, Sativa or Hybrid, which are commonly known strain families of the cannabis plant. There were approximately twenty different flowers on the wall with short descriptions on the common effect of each sub-strain.
My colleague made a purchase of a strain called Moby Dick, which was described as being ‘Great for stress and pain relief… a definite mood booster’. I settled on ‘Focus’ hemp CBD tincture by Calyx. I thought hemp CBD for focus coupled with meditation and yoga was a good start for a cannabis fitness newb. Stay tuned…
The staff at Aura were respectful and friendly and they gave us the space we needed to explore. I’m certainly glad I wasn’t alone and that I was accompanied by someone who is knowledgeable on cannabis products as, admittedly, I didn’t really know what I was looking at. To be perfectly honest, if it wasn’t for my colleague, I might not have ventured through the front doors at all.
In hindsight, I realise my apprehension was for naught. The staff at Aura, having experience with many curious eyes, are happy to guide newcomers, even if it is just an introduction to the products they have on offer.
My feelings have certainly changed after visiting Aura. I now feel like I could go back with someone who might also want to understand the nuanced uses for this plant. My hope is that by sharing my experience I may help alleviate some of the uncertainty surrounding what I can only describe as a cross between Finlandia pharmacy and a craft beer outlet, two places that I could quite comfortably find myself without hesitation.