LETHBRIDGE – More than two weeks after cannabis was legalized across the country, Lethbridge’s first pot shop opened its doors Saturday morning, Nov.3, to eagerly awaiting crowds.
At least 200 people lined up at NewLeaf Cannabis on Mayor Magrath Drive, beginning at 2 a.m. so they could be the first ones to see and buy a variety of products.
But the first person in line, Eden Rodriguez, said he wasn’t even there to buy for himself.
“I was the first one and I actually posted it on line… The funny thing is, it’s not even for me, it’s for a friend of mine. I don’t consume it. I don’t have anything against it, but it was like, ‘hey this is an historical day and I want to be a part of it.’ The other guy arrived at 5 a.m. and another guy shortly after.”
The lineup began gathering steam around 7 a.m. and by the time the doors were set to open at 10 a.m. the lineup was more than a block long.
The second person in line, who didn’t want his name used, said he’d been waiting decades for this day.
“I’ve been waiting probably since the early 70s for this. It’s silly that they didn’t do it sooner. It’s prohibition, just like alcohol, and they finally ended it.”
Leo Doucet, who said he consumes cannabis recreationally and medicinally to control pain and anger, said he hopes the stigma associated with using pot eventually goes away.
“I was criticized and put down for using it. You know what I mean? I hid from society. I’m a person, you’re a person, right?
Inside the store, where about 20 people were allowed at a time, Angus Taylor, one of the founders of NewLeaf Cannabis, said it was exciting being the first legal pot shop to open its doors in Lethbridge.
“We plan to open three (stores). Our second and third stores will probably be open by the end of next week. And we expect that will be followed by a number of other retailers that will have stores open in the city. But to be first is awesome.”
Given the large crowds and lengthy line up Saturday, and the fact that some stores have been running low on stock- including the province’s own online store – Taylor said they took the opportunity to stock up as best they could.
“For this store, we were fortunate, and we caught the website when it had an influx of a large number of individual product items or SKUs, so we were able to buy sufficiently to open this store, and we’ve got stock here to last us quite some time, so we’re really feeling good about what we’ve got in the vault here.
“It is an enormous challenge for the entire industry, though, to be fair. And I think many retailers including us are going to be challenged to get the kind of variety that we’re after and the kinds of volumes, so we don’t end up running out particular products that are going to be popular.”
So far, according to the AGLC website, there have been four retail cannabis licenses granted in Lethbridge; three in south Lethbridge and one on the west side of the city.
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