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From illegal to essential: First legal cannabis store opens in Windsor, Canada amidst COVID-19 pande

A safety protocol was put in place for customers who lined up.

A lineup of people outside of J. Supply Co. for its opening Saturday morning. Tape was put on the ground six feet apart, both outside and inside for people to practise social distancing. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

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.

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.

J. Supply Co.'s chief design officer David Craig and chief operating officer Stephen Keating inside the retail store on opening day Saturday. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"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.

COVID-19 protocols were in place at J. Supply Co. including customers being checked with a temperature gun as they entered the store. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

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.

Chris Martin said he'd been cooped up for weeks in his house so he came out for the store's opening. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

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.

Dennis Lemieux said he's been waiting 50 years for cannabis to be legalized, was unhappy with the provincial government's handling of legalization. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"A long time coming, a long time overdue," Lemieux said.

"It's day one in Windsor Ontario, retail. Here we go... legal." Originally published here: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/j-supply-co-first-cannabis-retailer-open-windsor-covid-19-1.5513704

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