Yellowknife vape shop opens, hoping to become dispensary

Releaf NT's co-owners inside their Yellowknife store on its opening day
Releaf NT's co-owners inside their Yellowknife store on its opening day in 2019, prior to approval being granted for the store to sell cannabis. Ollie Williams/Cabin Radio

The owners of a new vape shop in downtown Yellowknife hope to also become the city’s first privately owned cannabis dispensary.

Releaf NT opened in the same 51 Street complex as Thornton’s restaurant on Saturday, stocking a range of vaporizers, grinders, grow tents, and other accessories.

Inside, a dispensary area has already been prepared. The store’s owners have submitted an expression of interest to the territorial government and are awaiting developments.

For now, the territorial government – through liquor stores – has maintained control of cannabis sales in the NWT.



However, the territory promised to finalize a licensing process for private sellers within six months of the October 17, 2018 legalization date.

“We’re at the first stage. We’ve told them what we want to do and where we are. We’re waiting to hear on that,” John Maduke, co-owner, said on Saturday.

“We’ve heard rumours that other people have been approved for dispensaries but what we’ve found out is there are no other dispensaries popping up any time soon, so we’re looking to be the first one – other than the liquor shop, obviously.”

Previously a storage area, the store as yet has no obvious signage out front. Maduke said increasing the store’s visibility will be a next step.



Next to the would-be dispensary area, two demonstration grow tents – not featuring cannabis – are set up.

The tents retail from $600 to $800, billed as an all-in-one option where customers need only add seeds and soil.

Asked how Releaf NT has assessed the Yellowknife market, Maduke replied: “There’s room for growth – no pun intended.

Grow tents inside the Releaf NT store

Grow tents inside the Releaf NT store.

“A lot of customers in Yellowknife have found that the prices are quite high at the liquor shop.

“I think there is unlimited potential. No surprise, people consumed cannabis before it was legal. It’s more out in the open now, less stigma.”

On its Facebook page, the company has posted business hours of 11am-7pm daily, except Sunday, when it will open from 11am till 3pm.