Downtown Haliburton will soon have a recreational cannabis store as Capturing Eden received retail authorization Aug. 24.

The medical cannabis clinic has been working to sell retail cannabis since it opened in May 2019, losing in the initial lottery process. But after going through a months-long authorization, the store hopes to be ready to open to sell recreational cannabis by the Labour Day weekend.

“It’s fair to thank the entire community for all the support they’ve given us,” co-owner Wanita Livingstone said. “This has been a labour of love for us and the community has been very, very helpful.”

The authorization means after passing a final inspection, the store will be able to sell recreational cannabis products, working directly with the Ontario Cannabis Store and its catalogue. That does mean the storefront can no longer be a medical cannabis clinic, but Livingstone said they are looking for a new store space for that service and will continue offering it remotely.

Livingstone said the store can compete with the black market, given its safety and educated staff. They aim to deter 60 per cent of sales in the community.

“There’s not a concern or risk of lacing, not a concern or risk of safety,” Livingstone said. “Rural Ontario is big for the illegal drug trades and we want to be the people that cut that.”

The store is undergoing renovations and the owners installed more security cameras. Everyone who purchases cannabis will need to present ID and there is a maximum of 30 grams per transaction. There will also always be four staff on site, with a maximum of four customers due to the pandemic.

Store manager Dylan Haywood said they did not receive any complaints during a 15-day public notice process in March, required for their application.

“If there was somebody who was dead set on it being a real bad thing, they would have participated,” Haywood said. “The drug is on the market, whether we like it or not. Providing access in a legal and educated way is something that we can’t turn up.”

Livingstone said staff are well trained and they are happy to answer any questions people may have. She said they planned to host a communication forum about the recreational store, but the pandemic made that impossible.

All four of Haliburton’s townships opted to allow retail cannabis in their communities in late 2018. Livingstone said they have worked with Dysart and the County to ensure they were following procedures throughout their application process. No further municipal approvals are required.

Mayor Andrea Roberts said she is thrilled Capturing Eden got the license and she wishes them well.

“It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with the product they sell, the province deemed it legal, and clearly it is in demand,” Roberts said. “Wish them every success as I would any retail store in our municipality.”

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