At midnight on October 17th, 2018, recreational cannabis became legal across Canada. But thanks to timezones, some Canadians got to enjoy their first puff of legal cannabis hours before others.
So legalization took effect first in Newfoundland, which is a half-hour ahead of the Maritime provinces and 4.5 hours ahead of its furthest Canadian neighbor, British Columbia. The location that made the very first legal recreational cannabis sale in the nation's history was the Tweed store in St. John's, which opened its doors to customers as the clock struck twelve.
And the very first customers were thrilled to be part of the historic moment.
"I’m ecstatic," Ian Power told Civilized the next day. "It was amazing. It was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had in my life. Take all of your birthdays and your first time at Disney World and scrunch them all together. That’s what it was like."
And he needed that sort of excitement to weather the long wait in the cold. Power said he arrived at at the Tweed store around 8:30PM—three and a half hours before it opened. He described the wait as "an awful long time to be out in 9 degrees Celsius."
Still, he feels it was worth it to become part of history. Although he technically has to share the title of the first person to legally buy recreational cannabis with Nikki Rose, whom Power had never met before this.
"We were total strangers, but it’s nice to have shared that moment together, to be the faces of it. Since I’m of the older generation, and Nikki, who’s in her early 20s represents the younger generation."
He's especially excited to share the distinction with a woman since women are often overlooked when people think about cannabis culture.
"It’s not just men in cannabis," Power said. "There are a lot of women consumers and entrepreneurs in the industry worldwide, and it’s important to recognize that."
And he cites his mother - a strong feminist figure in his life - as an inspiration for his own activism.
"I’ve been a cannabis advocate for 30 years," he said. "I advocate and I educate. That’s been my thing my whole life."
As an advocate, he feels that the most important thing to come out of legalization is the potential for further research into the medicinal benefits of cannabis.
"Cannabis legalization is important to me mainly because it opens the floodgates to medical research for debilitating diseases. I know remedies to pain are going to be found through this."
As a medical patient himself (Power says he suffers from daily persistent migraines, after a drunk driver hit him ten years ago), he knows how beneficial it can be for patients. He also thinks the "good work of the gray area shops" should be acknowledged as well.
"I hope that the independent dispensaries will soon be included in this movement—I hope the laws change."
So, what was the historic first purchase?
"I got a gram of Donegal, but I’m actually not going to smoke it—I’m going to frame it," he said, describing a box frame with green lights, and including the signed receipt and bag given to him from Tweed CEO Bruce Linton.
Since that morning, Power has become something of a local celebrity. He said he’s talked to news outlets from around the globe.
"I heard from Newsweek, CNN, MSNBC, I was on the front page of BBC News yesterday, The Irish Times, the India Times…I had a phone call interview with someone from Japan," he said. Another personal highlight for Power is the fact that there might be a future strain out there with his name on it.
"They’re thinking of calling it 'Canad-IAN POWER,'" he said, proudly.
But all that is just icing on the cake for Power, who is just proud to fulfill his goal of becoming Canada's first official cannabis customer.
"I made the history books," he said. "I used to tell my friends back in the day that when weed becomes legal, I don’t just think I’ll be the first one there—I know I will…and I was."