Nfld. & Labrador

Pot shop gets approval from Portugal Cove-St. Philip's in time for legalization

The case of will it, won't it has been settled by Portugal Cove-St.Philip's regarding one man's plans to open a cannabis store in the town.

The town voted in favour of proposed marijuana store Tuesday night

Thomas H. Clarke has been approved by the town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's to open and operate a cannabis store after a vote Tuesday night. (CBC)

A man who struggled to open a cannabis store in Portugal Cove-St. Philip's in time for legalization later this month, has gotten the approvals he needed.

Thomas H. Clarke invested $125,000 into his proposed new store THC Distribution before it was shot down by the town's council in August for not having a complete business application — a petition against his proposal circulated by a group of residents also didn't help.

"I'm over the moon this morning. That was the last thing I needed to have done for the NLC to issue me the licence," Clarke told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show Wednesday.

Clarke got his go-ahead Tuesday night when council voted in his favour.

"So as of, hopefully before lunchtime, the town of Portugal Cove will send the letter to the NLC and then they're going to let the big dog off the chain."

Clarke was one of the first 12 applicants to receive approval to sell cannabis in the province.

He has one of three independent licences to sell the product — which will be supplied by the Newfoundland and Labrador Liquor Corporation — in a process which drew 90 applications.

Clarke waited through the uncertainty of the business application process for his cannabis store, but now he's just waiting on his license to officially open. (Juan Mabromata/AFP/Getty Images)

He is working hard to have his doors open for Oct. 17. That leaves Clarke with a tight deadline if he wants to be open for business on the first day of legalized cannabis, which had been his plan.

Clarke says he has to build relationships with licensed producers, set up his credit terms and order $150,000 in cannabis products in under two weeks, but remains optimistic.

His approach to his store is to also be as inclusive as possible.

"I'll also have all my wheelchair accessibility done. I got to do a few adjustments to the ramp outside. I've got a wheelchair accessible bathroom with a power door, a wheelchair door on the front, and I've got a lower counter," Clarke said.

"I'm going to be able to serve people who have disabilities better than any other cannabis shop in town, that's for sure."

Petition not a deterrent

Clarke said the group who started the petition in August to stop him from opening his store has never approached him.

"I put an ad in the paper in February saying I wanted to have my business there. They put in a petition at that time which was just about cannabis and their fears of cannabis," he said.

"The NLC had me put up an ad three different times stating that I was going to put a cannabis shop at this location, if anyone had any problems please contact the NLC. Nobody did."

Clarke says it's his responsibility to report any impaired drivers who might come to his store. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press)

Clarke added now that he has his approval, he hopes anybody behind the petition, or anyone with concerns, will talk to him directly.

"I'm going to do my best. It's my responsibility as a cannabis retailer to make sure that I don't sell cannabis to somebody who comes in who's impaired," he said.

"It's my responsibility to report an impaired driver if they come in my shop. I'm going to follow this to the letter of the law and I'm going to be an outstanding member of this community."

With files from the St. John's Morning Show

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