Why this Summerland cannabis shop is up for sale

After trying to make a go of it for two years, Elaine and Chris Nuessler say it's time to sell their Cannabis shop in Summerland.
After trying to make a go of it for two years, Elaine and Chris Nuessler say it's time to sell their Cannabis shop in Summerland.

Call it a pipe dream with a sad ending.  

Chris and Elaine Nuessler, both in their sixties, opened a cannabis shop in Summerland, B.C. two years ago in part because their granddaughter, Kyla, was in need of CBD to control her seizures — up to 1,000 a day. 

They soon realized that Kyla wasn't alone. 

"We thought, we need to have a cannabis shop in Summerland because we have so many people locally that depend on us," Elaine Nuessler said. "I would give free consultations to people and families in dire straits, trying to obtain CBD."

But she said the B.C. government wasn't happy with a CBD-only business. The Nuesslers had entered the legal drug business and had to sell THC and CBD. And that takes money — a lot of it. 

Elaine said opening a bank account as a privateer to get into the cannabis business, "costs us thousands of dollars because we're not recognized in the world yet. These federal banks charge a big amount, up to $2,500 a month," she said. "Because they think we're all... criminals." 

But there was no turning back for the Nuesslers. They were committed, morally and financially.

They already had a rental lease locked-in, not knowing that it would take an additional two years for their location to be approved. 

"In the end, we were so into it, that we decided we have to move forward," Elaine said. 

But, by that the time the legal cannabis market, especially in Summerland, was saturated. 

"We were flat-lined." 

Nuessler said a strike by B.C. government workers last September that cut off the flow of cannabis to B.C. didn't help. 

"We weren't able to get product," Nuessler said. She adds that despite the setbacks, "we're stubborn enough that we're sticking with it."

That was until the black-market reared its head again. 

"It has blossomed in the Okanagan," said Elaine.  

One area where the cannabis trade has blossomed in the Okanagan is on First Nation Reserves where the laws on selling cannabis legally don't seem to apply. 

"Because all they do is pay the reserve a fee for allowing these black market retailers to open up on Indigenous land," Nuessler said. "And they're non-indigenous people opening up shops across the Okanagan."

The Nuesslers have joined a class-action suit against the provincial government for allowing the pot shops on band land to operate with impunity, but Elaine admits it's time to sell and move on.

And she cautions anyone thinking of making it rich in the cannabis business. 

"If you're a registered, legal cannabis retailer, you are not making any money in the Okanagan," she said.  

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