From illegal to essential: First legal cannabis store opens in Windsor amidst COVID-19 pandemic
A safety protocol was put in place for customers who lined up
The doors to J. Supply Co. opened on Saturday to a lineup of people waiting to make their first purchase at a legal cannabis retailer in Windsor, about 18 months after the federal government legalized it for recreational use.
"We're just excited to finally be here," said David Craig, chief design officer for J. Supply Co.
- Windsor's first legal cannabis shop could open by end of March
Premier Doug Ford said that based on advice he got from mental health and addictions experts earlier this month, LCBO, Beer Stores and cannabis retailers are deemed essential and would remain open at this time.
"These are trying times, these are challenging times," Craig said.
"Though we are recreational, it's been shown that cannabis can help people with anxiety, help people with sleep, help people with focus and whatnot. So I think it's great that the Ontario government has decided it's essential."
Protocols in place
Opening the store during the COVID-19 pandemic was challenging, Craig said. He pointed out they had developed a protocol for being open during the outbreak.
There was tape on the floor, and space outside to ensure physical distancing, and staff donned protective gear.
Products or merchandise that people would normally be able to handle was kept behind glass.
They also only allowed 10 people in the store at any given time and those that were allowed in were given hand sanitizer and checked for symptoms that could be COVID-19 related, including a handheld device that checked people's temperature as they entered.
A long time coming, a long time overdue.- Dennis Lemieux
"We think we're taking all the precautions that are necessary," Craig said.
Customers come out
Chris Martin came for the opening day. He said he found the measures the store was taking to be consistent with other stores.
"Everybody's doing pretty much the same thing no matter [which] store you go [to]," he said.
Martin filled up on four different types of cannabis products, a rare trip away from home in the age of COVID-19.
"Being cooped up in the house for the past couple of weeks, I just wanted to get outside," he said.
Dennis Lemieux said he's been waiting for fifty years to be able to buy pot legally in person in Windsor. He said he thinks the provincial government did a poor job getting cannabis retailers in place since legalization.
"A long time coming, a long time overdue," Lemieux said.
"It's day one in Windsor Ontario, retail. Here we go... legal."