Cannabis has been a part of Ryan Roch’s life for several years.
“I’ve been a medical user for some time now,” said Roch, “It’s been something that’s been a closed-door thing for me, a private item.”
With a family history of entrepreneurship, and a desire to get out of the corporate world Roch was looking for the right opportunity.
When legalization was announced Roch knew he had found the perfect opportunity to bring his passion for small business and his private life with cannabis together.
“As the world became more open to this and this became an opportunity to live into that passion and to express it in a way that I felt was the best way possible,” he said, “and I’ve had a passion for the product for quite a while.”
With that, Lake City Cannabis was born as Roch began transitioning out of his job in telecommunications in Calgary to open one of the two cannabis retail locations in Chestermere.
Although he made the decision to enter the rapidly expanding cannabis industry in Canada after much reflection, it has still been an enormous change to bring his passion and use of cannabis out into the open.
“It was a big change for me jumping out of the cannabis closet,” said Roch.
He understands that not everyone agrees with legalization but said that so far, he hasn’t run into a lot of opposition to his new career path.
“I have to say I haven’t had a negative experience when we’ve been able to communicate as human to human in a calm collected dialogue,” said Roch.
“I found that openness and honesty and being open to other people’s opinions and not trying to force mine down anyone’s throat works best,” he said.
Roch’s goal in opening a cannabis retail location is to educate and work to ensure that those people who choose to consume can do so safely.
“I think we can find a really great balance of responsibility, community advocation and being able to do things the right way,” he said.
His goal is to create the kind of business that will convince people to leave the black market.
“We are creating an environment that one day will push out those who wish to operate in back rooms and nefarious ways,” he said.
Roch also believes strongly in being educated about cannabis, something that requires a lot of time and effort.
With cannabis so recently illegal, there aren’t a lot of resources or research available on it.
“Now that legalization has taken place there is room in the world of education and the world of research to begin these formal education processes and having that ability to do the research,” said Roch.
He spends a lot of time reading up on that new research and information as it becomes available.
“In order to get the education, you have to become a practitioner of this,” he said.
“You have to research, you have to read the available medical and research papers that are there.
“You have to really understand the product, you should know how the plant grows…know the parts of the plant, you should become very familiar with all of the nuances of cannabis,” said Roch.
While educates himself on both the medical and recreational aspects to better understand cannabis, Roch will staying strictly in the world of recreation with his business.
“As a recreational business, we don’t cross over into that world of medical,” he said, “we’re strictly focused on making sure that whatever comes through this door is recreational.”
“There’s a world for medical and that needs to stay where it is,” said Roch.
Roch plans to take his expertise and share them with the community, hosting education nights and posting information online for people.
“We’re here to make sure that should this be something that you want to try, then we want to educate you in what that experience could be along the way in the most responsible and safe manner that we can possibly provide,” said Roch.
“I’m not here to convince anybody or tell anybody to feel anything one way or another,” he said, “we just want to be here to make sure that we provide a safe experience to Chestermere.”
Residents in the city looking to support local will have to wait a little while longer though.
While Roch has all of the permits and licenses, he has not yet received any product from Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) who is the regulator of the cannabis industry in Alberta.
Supply shortages have meant that new businesses aren’t receiving product yet.
“We are approved by the AGLC so we’re in line to…get our product,” said Roch.
Until he can get his supply of cannabis in the store, Roch said he will be focusing on education and accessories.