Business taking a hit at Summerside smoke shop due to tobacco rules, owners say

·4 min read
'I am turning people away that have just left the cannabis store and bought cannabis. It's frustrating,' says Megan Patey, co-owner of Island Releaf Glass smoke shop in Summerside. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)
'I am turning people away that have just left the cannabis store and bought cannabis. It's frustrating,' says Megan Patey, co-owner of Island Releaf Glass smoke shop in Summerside. (Tony Davis/CBC - image credit)

A store in Summerside that sells smoking devices for cannabis use like pipes, bongs and vaporizers says it is caught up in the province's recently changed rules around selling tobacco and electronic smoking devices.

Island Releaf Glass smoke shop in Summerside doesn't sell any tobacco products but co-owner Megan Patey says the store is classified as a tobacconist under the regulations.

"Basically we've got a double standard," she said. "In P.E.I. you are able to buy cannabis at 19 and with the rules and regulations the way they are now you can't come in and buy any accessories, bong, vapes, papers until 21.

"It means that I am turning people away that have just left the cannabis store and bought cannabis. It's frustrating."

Patey says all the vaporizers sold in the shop are for cannabis use.
Patey says all the vaporizers sold in the shop are for cannabis use.(Tony Davis/CBC)

Patey said P.E.I. Cannabis locations have similar options such as papers and weed vaporizers for sale and she's unclear why her selling the same products would be illegal.

"The P.E.I. Cannabis Management Corporation Act permits the PEICMC to sell accessory items that are related to, or, used in the consumption of cannabis. Tobacconist shops are not covered under the act," an email from the province said.

Officials with the province said it views the sale of cannabis accessories at government retailers as part of educating customers on safe cannabis consumption.

Tobacconist classification

The new legislation came into effect in March 2020. It raised the age to purchase tobacco or any electronic smoking device from 19 to 21.

Government officials were up front with Patey as the date the new rules were to take effect approached, she said, and explained the shop would be classified as a tobacconist.

Biggar says vapes make up a very small portion of  business, and most items sold are papers, pictured above or glass pipes.
Biggar says vapes make up a very small portion of business, and most items sold are papers, pictured above or glass pipes.(Tony Davis/CBC)

According to the legislation, a tobacconist shop has to be age restricted with the primary business being the sale of tobacco products.

"Primary business means at least 50 per cent of the retailer's product display space is devoted to the sale of tobacco, electronic smoking devices, or a combination of both," according to the government's website on the act.

'There really should be two separate licences'

Hunter Nicholson-Kerr, the online sales and store manager of Grow Daddy in Stratford, P.E.I., said the store is also licensed as a tobacconist.

'There really should be two separate licences: a tobacco-tier licence and a cannabis licence for retailers like us,' says Hunter Nicholson-Kerr.
'There really should be two separate licences: a tobacco-tier licence and a cannabis licence for retailers like us,' says Hunter Nicholson-Kerr.(Tony Davis/CBC)

Because of that, he sells some tobacco and nicotine products like vapes, but he would like to stop selling them and move to selling cannabis products only.

Nicholson-Kerr said he wants government to be more inclusive in licensing.

"There really should be two separate licences: a tobacco-tier licence and a cannabis licence for retailers like us."

"It would give us the freedom to drop down to the 19-plus … it would allow us to take out the nicotine products, which we're not that interested in selling to our clients anyway."

Thomas Biggar, the other owner of Island Releaf Glass, said the store has a small selection of cannabis vaporizers.

"I don't even know if there is a percentage to put on that, it might be five per cent of what we sell. That's being generous."

Before cannabis was legal, some shops advertised smoking devices to be used with tobacco to skirt certain rules. Now that cannabis is legal, Biggar said it's common knowledge the devices sold at his store are meant for weed, not tobacco.

Now that cannabis is legal, it's common knowledge the devices sold at his store are meant for weed, not tobacco, says Thomas Biggar, co-owner of Island Releaf Glass.
Now that cannabis is legal, it's common knowledge the devices sold at his store are meant for weed, not tobacco, says Thomas Biggar, co-owner of Island Releaf Glass.(Tony Davis/CBC)

All of the vapes sold at the store are for use with ground cannabis flower, Patey said, and none are for use with cartridges containing nicotine.

And business has been hurting. Patey said, people get excited to turn 19 and all the things that typically come with it. She thinks there should have been more thought given to businesses like hers, "that obviously don't sell any tobacco products."

Patey said she has no desire to introduce tobacco to her business. She said some of her customers suffer negative effects from smoking tobacco and it's not something she wants to contribute to.

More from CBC P.E.I.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting