MEDICINE HAT – Medicine Hat residents turned out in droves Wednesday, Oct. 17 to be the first to legally purchase marijuana in the city.
Green Exchange was one of the businesses that opened on Wednesday, welcoming customers into their store at 10 am. Owner Jay Hern said it’s been a long time coming to get their business up and running.
“It just shows how hard we worked at this,” said Hern. “We got probably the fifth license in Alberta of the 17 stores, so we really worked hard and executed our plan.”
Medicine Hat is the only city in the area to have pot retailers open for legalization day, which resulted in some customers from as far away as Lethbridge making the drive down to be first in line. As of Thursday morning, Oct. 18, no retailer in Lethbridge had yet been issued a licence by the province.
Lineups stretched out the doors at not only Green Exchange, but Medicine Hat’s two other cannabis retailers as well in Westside Weed and Waldo’s 420 Store.
Waldo’s owner Patrick Wallace said they were overwhelmed on their first day, helping 250 customers over the first four hours alone.
“We were expecting about half the amount of people that we've received,” said Wallace. “This is overwhelming support and I like to see this, I just wish I knew this was going to happen beforehand.”
Excitement was the prevailing emotion from most of those in line, but many were still wary of speaking to CHAT News or having video taken of them at the cannabis retailers. Most of those waiting in line we spoke to were excited to purchase cannabis in a store format, adding they don’t have to purchase their marijuana in risky areas like alleyways or backdoor websites.
Wallace added the hype around legalization will likely die down in the coming weeks, but is confident the market will still be there.
“I'm pretty sure it's going to be self-sustaining,” he said “Everybody has wanted it for such a long time that it's not going to die-off overnight.”
Hern added he doesn’t know what the coming months will bring, but right now he said he’s soaking in a landmark day for both his business and the country.
“We'll just take one day at a time and go from there,” he said.
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