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Port Hardy pot retail business gets provincial approval

PORT HARDY, B.C. – A Port Hardy couple are about to embark on a history-making venture.

After receiving blessing in principle from the province, Stellar Jay Organics owners Tristan Radzik and Serena Neumerschitsky are set to become the first merchants to sell legal cannabis on Vancouver Island.

The business has received the green light from both the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch and the municipality, meaning that Port Hardy’s Stellar Jay Organics could possibly set up shop in February at its North Island Mall location.

In a phone interview with the newsroom, Radzik said he is excited about the opportunity of running the first legal cannabis retail store on the island.

“It is momentous for us, and it’s going to be a title that nobody can really take away from us,” Radzik said. “We know there are people right behind us, and it’s going to be one of our carriers throughout our entire existence as a business. I don’t want to speak too soon, but hopefully we’ll have a little plaque and say, ‘first ones on the island.’ We’re very proud and excited.”

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If an inspection from provincial regulators passes muster, Stellar Jay Organics will be ready to roll.

If and when it opens, the store will mimic the B.C. cannabis stores, offering products including flowers, oils, and capsules, to name a few, all on display in locked shelving.

“Because we are a smaller rural location, we will have to ease back on the amount and variety of product,” Radzik said. “We are trying to listen to community members. People have reached out with strains, and we’re open to ideas and concepts all the time.”

Radzik said he and Neumerschitsky have been active in Port Hardy since they moved there two years ago, by joining the cannabis council.

“At that time, we just wanted to show the community that there’s an understanding and we wanted to do it right,” he said. “We saw the good, and the bad, and the ugly in the Vancouver market, and coming up here and noticing our little town was going to start talks about this, we just wanted to put our two cents into it. At that point, the idea sparked that maybe we have the potential to do this.”

According to Radzik, they are showing civic pride by picking up garbage around the community, “because we are proud of our little community here; Port Hardy is just so beautiful.”

Radzik said the choice of location was “kind of organic” because it was close to their home, and was in a properly zoned area.

“It was just a beautiful space to start our journey,” he said.

The couple has been received with open arms by the community, he added.

Radzik didn’t want to pinpoint an exact opening date: “There’s always ‘unforeseeables,’ we are doing our darned best to do everything that is necessary. I don’t want to count our chickens before they lay, but we are going to be open in February.”

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