Blue is new green

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Lake Tahoe’s newest cannabis store, Cannablue, is holding its grand opening this weekend.

Last weekend, they had their soft opening and since have been operating with limited hours while they prepare. The store will be open daily from 10 a.m.to 8 p.m. starting Saturday, Dec. 5. A ribbon cutting will be held at 4:20 p.m.

Blue illuminating light fixtures and designs are spread throughout the newly remodeled space located just off U.S. Highway 50/Lake Tahoe Blvd at the corner of 3rd Street.

In front stands a blue sign with their name and pinecone logo — which is hard to miss. Their treasured logo, the blue pine cone, is not only symbolic of Lake Tahoe but also represents the shape and emblematic meaning of a marijuana flower bud.

“The company was built with Tahoe in mind from the ground up,” said Cannablue Owner Alex Gosselin, who is also known as “Goose” in the community.

Gosselin wanted to encapsulate the essence of Lake Tahoe through the design and art around the store. Upon walking in, a large sliced tree stump hangs on the wall. It’s roughly 624 years old, well, that is the number of rings Cannablue employees have counted. This tree fell down across Pioneer Road. Gosselin used the wood from the tree to have his contractor make the bar in the entrance of the store, but also it stands as a representation of the history of the lake through all of its many rings.

Gosselin moved to Tahoe in 1996 from Brighton, Michigan. At 19 years old, he moved across the country with not much more than his turntables and a van he lived in. He did freelance DJ work until transitioning to growing marijuana at a farm near Placerville.

After Gosselin got injured on the mountain a few times, he found the benefits of cannabis for pain management of his injuries. The healing power of cannabis inspired him to want to do more with it.

Gosselin said that he saved every penny that he ever made to chase his dream of opening a cannabis business and his hard-work to make his life-long dream come true originated from his roots working on his grandparents Cherry tree farm.

“I am a farmer at heart,” he said. “This was an opportunity of a lifetime and I did everything in my power to get it. I feel very lucky to have a chance to serve the community.”

He created his business with a vision that cannabis can be used in an active healthy lifestyle whether it be through pain management, spirituality or the connection to the community as opposed to the stigma of just “getting high.”

Gosselin puts education, community and charity at the forefront of Cannablue.

Not only does the store have several screens throughout the building with ready-information about the products, but Cannablue also has several cannabis-savvy staff on the floor ready to help each customer learn about correct dosage, benefits and general information about each product.

Gosselin created a system that caters to those who want more education on specific cannabis products and their uses. “We are all about education here,” said Gosselin. At the check-in desk, customers receive a lanyard, one is a navy blue and the other is light blue. Navy blue indicates that you want to tour alone and light blue signals that you would like a “tour guide” to take you through all the varying options.

Gosselin also used a “ski resort” model for purchasing products. As someone shops throughout the store, one will attach the “Lifted Ticket” to their lanyard to purchase and redeem items with a “Budtender” at the check-out desk — the check-out area is even in the shape of ski goggles.

Cannablue also touts that they are “Cannabis with a cause” and live up to it by committing to give 10% of all proceeds back into the community through local charities and nonprofits.

Cannablue has “Cause Tables” where people can vote with their dollars on which organization the 10% is spent on.

“We will do everything we can to support the nonprofits that we believe in the most,” said Gosselin. “I am also proud to be able to give back to Christmas Cheer which was useful back when I was a hungry kid living in my van.”

Cannablue has different sections around the store for products including the “Concentrate Corner” with “Terp Tower” which is a chilled art piece that keeps concentrated cannabis at a specific temperature.

The “Cannablue Cafe” contains all sorts of cannabis edibles.

Each type of product has a clearly labeled section including vapes, pre-rolls, local exclusives, and a wellness section full of tincture, topicals, capsules, pet CBD and more.

“We want to make it easy for people, especially those who are new to cannabis,” he said.

One section is even labeled by season Tahoe Winter to Tahoe Summer with fitting products.

Nearby, at the check-out desk, “budtenders” and “bud-backs” work similar to a restaurant POS system.

When “Lifted Tickets” are scanned, the “bud-back” prepares the products and the drawer reaches the desk, lights up indicating to the “bud-tenders” that products are ready.

Cannablue also has upped sanitization and social-distancing protocols throughout the store to ensure safety of customers during the pandemic.

Their nonprofit partners are Christmas Cheer, Sugar Pine Foundation, Tahoe Arts Project, Sierra Avalanche Center, USASA South Tahoe, Clean Tahoe Project, Weed for Warriors, Lake Tahoe Pride, LTWC, Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe.

Said Gosselin, “We have an extremely strong diverse team of locals, new and old, that will help us transform this community together as one.”