Originally published on Medium, October 2019

For the first time in my life, I bought weed, legally. Check that off the bucket list. For the past year, cannabis has been legal where I happen to be at the moment. Despite legalization, legal retail stores have been hard to come by until recently.

Medical marijuana was legal for several years. That meant dispensaries were scattered throughout Toronto just like in other places where medical marijuana is legal. I never visited one of these dispensaries. After legalization, the only legal retailer was online. Now, legal retail shops are popping up all over the city.

At the legal shop or at least the legal shop I visited, you could buy weed, oils, pre-rolled joints, and more. The whole set up felt, well a bit weird. There was a line up with a security guard checking IDs. I wondered whether I was going to a club. The bright florescent lights put that notion aside, however. This was no musty head shop or weed cafe. Everything was bright and clean. Product packages lined the walls with information and pricing purely for display. You were required to order what you wanted to purchase from either a large touchscreen kiosk or a salesperson with a tablet. Once your order was placed you waited in another line to pick up the order and check out. The whole process was efficient. But is efficiency what we’re looking for when it comes to buying weed?

Most people are used to buying cannabis from their friendly neighborhood drug-dealer. Or perhaps they went to a dispensary. There was a familiarity and comfort to purchasing. Trying the weed with your dealer or at a cafe wasn’t uncommon. It wasn’t about lining up, it was often about hanging out. While weed cafes will no doubt get cannabis licenses, they will compete with these new pot shops or as I like to say the big box store of cannabis sales.

Legalization has been a long time coming. We are sure to see more and more US states will fully legalize like Colorado and California and like Canada. More people using and more retail locations. There will still be stores and cafes with the homey feel. Weed is a big business and with that comes a more commercial approach to sales.

The culture around buying and using weed is sure to change with greater legalization. Less the rebellious act of teenagers or hippies, cannabis is becoming more a mainstream indulgence. These new pot shops may just be the first glimpse at what a commercial approach to selling cannabis looks like.