A look at Lethbridge’s legal cannabis market on 4/20

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A look at Lethbridge’s legal cannabis market on 4/20
Cannabis enthusiasts are celebrating the unofficial holiday of 4/20 as legalization approaches its fourth year in Canada. Lethbridge is home to more than two dozen licensed retailers selling a huge variety of cannabis products. While recreational use can have perks for many, it still comes with risks. Eloise Therien has more. – Apr 20, 2022

Wednesday, April 20 marks an unofficial holiday for cannabis enthusiasts — known simply as 4/20.

According to the City of Lethbridge, there are a total of 33 licensed cannabis retailers in the community. Five of those have closed, meaning 28 are currently active.

The year following legalization in 2019 saw the most new licenses issued at 11, compared to 10 in 2018, and six in both 2020 and 2021.

During that time some things have changed, including the variety of product, and who’s buying it.

“Now that we have the better selection and the products have grown, we’re (still seeing) a lot of new timers, but now we’re seeing a lot of the old school users and the people who have been coming over from the black market,” explained The Source Cannabis manager Levi Tolman.

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When it comes to the stigma around cannabis use, Tolman thinks it’s lessened.

“I don’t hear a lot about it,” he explained. “We’re in the store every day so the people we see are very accepting of it, and we don’t hear a lot of negative things about the products anymore.”

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Crystal Neufeld, owner of Hashed Gardens Cannabis, said opening the store was her husband’s idea. It made her apprehensive at first.

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4 years after pot was legalized, Canada’s cannabis industry still faces challenges

“I still had the stigma of hiding a little bit,” Neufeld said. “But with the education that’s out there that we’ve been able to utilize in the last couple of years, it’s really opened my eyes and I’ve been able to explain that to customers as well.”

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Not only is she more comfortable answering questions about cannabis now, Neufeld also helps advise first-time users.

“You have to be able to just take little by little and see what’s best for you,” she said.

However, no matter how enjoyable recreational cannabis use may be, it still has risks.

Alberta Health Services issued a PSA on Wednesday to help inform the public of the harms that can come along with cannabis consumption.

“Especially under the age of 25, there are some health risks associated with memory, concentration, and increased risk of mental health illness in that particular category,” south zone medical officer of Health Dr. Mila Luchak told Global News.

According to the 2021 Canadian Cannabis Survey, a quarter of Canadians over the age of 16 reported using cannabis for non-medical purposes in the previous 12 months.

“Of that number, about 68 per cent are using in combination with alcohol, and about 31 per cent are using in combination with tobacco,” Luchak added.

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“Mixing cannabis products and alcohol would pose increased risk especially around injuries, falls, there could be unsafe sex, and particularly around driving under the influence.”

Luchak suggested some options to reduce risk, including finding a lower THC dosage, choosing non-smoking options, avoiding mixing cannabis with other substances, never getting behind the wheel, and abstaining from use altogether.

Help and support is available through, by calling Health Link toll-free at 811, or the Addiction Helpline at 1-866-332-2322.

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