Lethbridge medical cannabis clinic closing its doors, will reopen as recreational retailer

Lethbridge medical cannabis clinic closing doors; opening as recreational retailer
One of Lethbridge's medical marijuana clinics is closing its doors in order to reopen as a recreational retailer once marijuana is legalized in fall 2018. Kyle Benning has more on the company's decision.

Lethbridge’s first medical marijuana clinic is closing its doors temporarily as it gets ready to rebrand.

The 420 Clinic is moving away from the medicinal market and will become a recreational retailer when marijuana is legalized on Oct. 17.

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Dr. Ife Abiola, the company’s medical director, said even though it will be more profitable to run a retail operation, finances were only part of the reason why 420 decided to make the change.

“We will be able to provide [customers] with the same medical strains that they were using previously,” said Abiola.

“The way that the system is set up right now, it does take a while to do things like book an appointment, to renew, to order your product, to get properly assessed. This way, with the proper counselling, somebody who has a medical issue will be able to come in and simply get the strain that they need.”

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Under the regulations governing recreational shops, retailers aren’t allowed to provide medical services.

However, 420 Clinic will still offer counselling to its customers by phone or e-mail.

Abiola added that the Calgary branch of the business will remain open for clients who want to travel for a face-to-face visit.

READ MORE: First medical marijuana clinic to open in Lethbridge in July

Another Lethbridge medical clinic said the news of 420 changing its business model has little to no effect on them.

Natural Health Services said it has no plans to move away from the medical side of cannabis.

“We know that there’s a lot of people out there, seniors included, who don’t want to go to recreational facilities where they can’t give therapeutic advice. They want professionals who are able to speak to them about their conditions,” said director of community outreach Kait Shane.

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Abiola understands some people might have negative feelings towards stepping into a pot shop.

“I think when they’re able to see how quickly they’re able to get their product — that would’ve taken them many months previously — and when they’re able to understand that the clinic will still be around and we will still be a resource for them for that same information, they’ll probably be a little bit thankful that they’ll be able to get it so soon and so efficiently,” he said.

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As of Aug. 1, the City of Lethbridge said it had approved 10 development permits for cannabis retailers but noted more are still coming in and being evaluated.