From Legacy to Legal — High Profile Champion of “Illegal” Cannabis Now General Manager of HARVEST — Brantford’s Premier Legal Cannabis Retail Store

From Legacy to Legal — High Profile Champion of “Illegal” Cannabis Now General Manager of HARVEST — Brantford’s Premier Legal Cannabis Retail Store

It was on October 2nd of this year, just a few busy weeks ago, that Harvest Cannabis on 59 Dalhousie St, first opened its doors. The company is proud that its owner / legal operator works in emergency services and brings with him to the company his #1 priority — community safety. In news that some might find surprising, the company recently announced that Britney Anne Guerra, who had recently got her first cannabis retail management license, would be General Manager of the new store.

Though Guerra is a brand new recipient of a cannabis retail management license, she’s well known in the industry nationwide. Guerra was an outspoken activist in pre-legalization days — her effective public advocacy for the plant goes back more than a decade.

Those who have been following regional news about cannabis over the last few years will recognize her name, too. For years Guerra put herself on the front lines in BC, Hamilton and Brantford, a trailblazer in the then illicit market. One of the few cannabiz leaders that brought credibility and professionalism to the industry. Helping to usher in legalization, Guerra has time served. In front of news cameras, judges and behind bars. She remains proud of her activist past today — but reflects that she’s seen the inside of more cells and courtrooms than she wants to remember. She was one of the high profile defendants in the Project Gator busts that shut down Cannabis Culture stores across Canada.
She has intentions to pioneer for change from the inside — and staying out of a jail cell.

So how did Britney get from there to here — from legacy to legal?

“It was a whole legal process,” she says today. “It took eight months, two police interviews with the Ontario Provincial Police so I could work in the store as the General Manager at Harvest.”

Those who knew Britney in the old days of Hamilton’s Medicine Cabinet (her first pre-legal dispensary in the area in the days when she fought to bring access to communities who otherwise had none) who visit the new store will recognize Britney’s aesthetic. Both stores share the same look — lovely, airy, well designed, and a pleasure to shop in.

“I opened my legacy market stores in both Hamilton and Brantford when there were no stores; there was no access. Cannabis was still illegal — and I was committed to providing recreational cannabis to adults in Canada when Trudeau promised. So why wouldn’t I transition when I have been preaching for legalization for the last twelve years of my life, my entire adult life. I said, “LEGALIZE it!” on the streets of Vancouver, and here we are. I’m thrilled to transition into the legal market.”

And what has changed with that transition?

If you ask Britney, she’ll laugh and say, “The profit margins!” Estimates of the illegal market put profits in the area of 80 to 90 percent, while the margins at most of Ontario’s legal stores are 25%-35%. The product looks a little different, too. Everything on the shelves has been approved for sale by the government, tested, labelled with packaging dates and other important consumer information.

The superior difference — is peace of mind. Guerra is also a young mom, not only a savvy businesswoman, a marketing professional and a cannabis industry trailblazer.
“The legal environment certainly has its perks. Most important to me being safety; there are now fewer concerns about a robbery, potential arsons. That can happen to any business, but now law enforcement is on my side, I don’t have to worry about them pressing charges on me for getting robbed. I will never denounce the legacy market — I contributed to a lot of it, and I still believe that people should shop where they want and have that freedom of choice. But as a mother now, and someone with a criminal record — I’m more comfortable in the legal market — I can’t afford to go to jail, I can’t afford to lose time with my child.”

She also reflects how the courts seem to be on her side now, too. After years of fights with Brantford and Hamilton’s council, she is pleased to tell how the City of Brantford opposed Harvest’s location near the town square.

“I have met a lot of challenges in my life,” she says. “But mostly when it came to municipal by-laws, I could not win while in the legacy market. But now that I am in the legal industry, I can engage in challenges successfully. With an expert legal team, we were able to take on the City of Brantford and win that fight — and now we are here and have been welcomed by the community and the local BIA.”

In addition to managing Harvest in Brantford, she uses the insight and knowledge gained over 12 years in the industry as Founder and CEO of Guerra Consulting. Britney and her term perform a variety of services for other cannabis retail industry operators.
Her role at the consulting firm is undoubtedly keeping her busy. “We just opened another dispensary, Brant at 168 Charing Cross, and we have two projects in Hamilton — Neku Cannabis in Hess Village and Attic Pizza in Stoney Creek, which also caused some controversy, where we again prevailed. The Attic Pizza has shut down in-store dining and converted that section of the building into the second Neku Cannabis location. I have Woodstock Cannabis coming in March, and then another coming in Brantford, Cloud Nine Cannabis. I help them do everything from obtaining legal counsel to licensing to locating great places for the retail stores, Merchandising, display; I make it essentially turn-key operation for new cannabis industry operators.”

Britney Anne Guerra is available for media interviews.

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Tracy Lamourie is CEO of Lamourie Media and the author of the upcoming book GET REPPED — Build Your Brand With Effective Public & Media Relations