Inside 5 Government-run Retailers

The Canadian cannabis industry is uniquely different from every legal state in America. As it is with alcohol, many Canadian provinces have chosen the public sector to own and operate government-run cannabis shops. The provincial governments and liquor distribution branches in New Brunswick, Quebec, PEI and Nova Scotia retain full control of legal marijuana retail. B.C. has chosen a mixed model (both private and public businesses) but currently only has one store in the province that is 100% owned and operated by the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch.

Let’s take a look inside 5 of these government-run retailers and examine the differences.

New Brunswick - CannabisNB


New Brunswick’s legal provincially-run retailer is named ‘CannabisNB’. The outside of the store features a simple grey brick design with a black sign and bold lettering.

Something unique about CannabisNB’s stores are the “Express” window. This is where customers can pick up orders that they have placed online or over the phone. This section will not be open for the first few months.


Inside the store, dark grey-coloured walls intermingle with wooden panels and glass countertops. The store is split up into three sections: Discover, Connect and Refresh. There are three wooden countertops in the middle of the floor each representing on of these three categories. Customers can learn about the potential effects of the products they are choosing by reading about the colour-coded category of their choice.

CannabisNB actually had to change the images used for these categories both in-store and online because they violate the marketing regulations set forth in The Cannabis Act. We covered the full story here.


Nova Scotia - NSLC


Nova Scotia has created both stand-alone stores and “cannabis sections” in their existing NSLC liquor store locations. The signs use the existing NSLC logo with the addition of the word cannabis in cursive writing.

Inside the store features a very bright and open design. The cashier counters are made with wood panels and the walls are painted white and beige. The products, placed behind the counter, are categorized into Enhance, Centre, Unwind and Relax. AdCann has received reports that customers are able to view, smell and examine the products before purchasing them in store.


Cannabis sections were added to some existing NSLC liquor store locations. The cannabis store is in a completely different section behind fogged glass.


P.E.I. - PEI Cannabis

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PEI Cannabis is Prince Edward Island’s sole provincial retailer. Their storefront is similar to CannabisNB, with a black sign and white text and a leaf logo.


It seems that legal cannabis retailers really love the wood aesthetic, however, PEI Cannabis has adopted the trend most fully. Their entire store, from the flooring to the shelves, are panelled with brown wood patterns. Products are separated into Sativa, Hybrid and Indica. Customers can explore the different categories and products by walking around the store, as they are placed on shelves on the wall (and not behind a counter). A television screen displays information about these different types of cannabis.

Wooden counters in the middle of the floor are covered in interactive tablets, green plants and glass jars holding different products. These tablets help customers learn more about cannabis and the different products sold by the retailer before they make their purchase at the cashier counter.


Quebec - SQDC


Quebec has created stand alone stores called the SDQC (Société Québécoise du Cannabis). Their logo has been criticized by the cannabis community on social media for looking like… how do we say this… it kind of looks like a butthole with a stick coming out of it. We’re not making that up, click the link if you don’t believe us. If you can get past that fact, it’s a pretty unique design.

The SQDC is the only provincially-run retailer on our list that has embraced the green colour-way so often associated with cannabis.


Inside the store, cannabis products can only be found behind the counter on wooden shelves with olive green, yellow and light blue signs indicating the name of the product, cannabinoid percentages and pricing by quantity.

Signs are placed on the wall throughout the store describing the differences between Sativa, Hybrid and Indica strains. There are also signs with examples of strains found within these categories.


British Columbia - B.C. Cannabis Store


The B.C. Cannabis Store features a white sign with black lettering. Currently there is only one retail location in the province, which is located in Kamloops (almost a 4 hour drive Northeast of Vancouver).

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Inside the store, you are greeted by a futuristic circular layout with a massive ring lighting up the ceiling. All along the white marble counters are glass enclosures featuring all of the different cannabis flower strains that the retailer sells. Customers can view the product from all angles before purchasing. There are also information cards with cannabinoid percentages, descriptions of the smell and terpene combination and the pricing per quantity. The B.C. Cannabis Store has also chosen to separate their products by the traditional categories of Hybrid, Sativa and Indica.

There are tablets placed around the store that offer information about cannabis and the types of products that are available for purchase. The walls feature colourful artwork, some directly featuring images of cannabis. Customers view products and employees or “budtenders” walk around with portable tablets and help you pick out and purchase products.

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