First Lethbridge cannabis store opens for business

Click to play video: 'Hundreds flock to 1st Lethbridge cannabis retailer for grand opening'
Hundreds flock to 1st Lethbridge cannabis retailer for grand opening
WATCH ABOVE: Hundreds waited in line to be among the first to purchase legal cannabis products from Lethbridge's first retail store on Saturday – with some even queueing up before sunrise. Kyle Benning has more on NewLeaf's grand opening – Nov 5, 2018

Eden Rodriguez was the first customer to enter Lethbridge’s first retail marijuana store — and he left to cheers from the crowd still waiting to enter NewLeaf Cannabis.

“I arrived at around 2 a.m… because I wanted to be the first one,” he said.

Rodriguez was fully prepared for the early morning weather conditions, opting not to set up a tent in front of the doors.

“I put on a bunch of pants, snow pants, two jackets and hats and everything,” he said. “I even bought a sign that I put outside that said: ‘If you don’t see me, I’m the first in line. I’m just warming up in the car.’”

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Rodriguez said the next person in line was behind him around five o’clock.

Despite having to wait more than two weeks after cannabis legalization, many still flocked to the store for its opening.

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NewLeaf said this was exactly the response they were hoping to see.

“I think it really shows that Lethbridge residents have been hoping for a store to sell cannabis for a long time. We just happened to be lucky enough to be the first one open,” said Angus Taylor, one of the company’s founders.

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Two more NewLeaf stores are expected to open on the city’s west side next week.

Two other shops — Twenty Four Karats and Spiritleaf — have been granted licences by Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC).

Twenty Four Karats expects to open as soon as its delivery comes in.

The city said it has approved 23 development permits for pot shops, meaning more are expected to sprout up across Lethbridge in the coming months.

Rodriguez said he was buying cannabis for friends.

He chose to camp out so he could witness something special.

“I don’t consume it. I’ve never bought it before. I have no idea, but I just wanted to be a part of it. It’s an important day for a lot of people,” Rodriguez said.

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