Colleen McQuade awaits a retail license to bring marijuana to downtown Bennington.

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BENNINGTON — As Vermont prepares for retail cannabis locations to open across the state, Colleen McQuade patiently awaits a retail license to bring marijuana to downtown Bennington.

McQuade lives in town and is planning on opening a retail cannabis space called Juniper Lane, named for her first pipe, at 445 Main Street. While McQuade doesn’t have her license as of yet, she hopes to open within weeks of being approved.

McQuade got comfortable with the business of cannabis while she sold glass pipes around the country. Becoming a pipe wholesaler segued her into the cannabis industry. Her first job working directly with cannabis — or marijuana, weed or pot — was at a dispensary in Pennsylvania. She went on to manage other dispensaries and assist with opening cannabis stores in Illinois for its adult use roll out.

A few years ago, she moved to Vermont and started working in the state’s medical cannabis market. She’s spent a total of about eight years involved in the cannabis industry. When the opportunity presented itself, McQuade decided to venture out and create her own dispensary.

“I’ve always wanted to do it myself,” she said. “I honestly thought I could do a really good job because of my background, and I love weed so much.”

“There’s so many big corporations and there are so many men, and there’s not a lot of women ownership in the cannabis space,” she said. McQuade wants to uplift women and other communities that are marginalized in the cannabis industry. “One of the missions of Juniper Lane is to support and encourage female ownership in the cannabis space.”

To open, McQuade needs to train all of her employees on the age verification process and other business operations. Customer identification will be checked twice before cannabis can be purchased — once at the door and again at the counter. McQuade was approved as an Authorized Retail Trainer on Wednesday, which means she is able to begin training her staff. All customer-facing employees in Vermont’s retail cannabis industry must undergo this training.

Once Juniper Lane is open, the retail space will be calming and welcoming. The large wooden counter will sit in front of a wall of cannabis flower in a “deli style,” said McQuade. The wall behind the counter will be filled with various Vermont grown cannabis that the customer will be able to choose from.

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McQuade plans on having areas where customers can lounge and hang out while they decide what strain of cannabis they will leave with. She noted that consumption of cannabis at a dispensary is still illegal.

She has plans to sell all types of cannabis products including flower, edibles, concentrates and clones, small plants that can be grown at home, once the market is up and running. Small refrigerators will be positioned behind the counter to hold any products that need to be kept cold. Pipes and other smoking accessories will also be available.

There will be a system in place at Juniper Lane that will allow medical cannabis users to receive a discount to offset the sales tax. In addition, anyone who brings a clean and sealable jar to transport their cannabis will receive a discount. McQuade is doing this to promote sustainability. She will be able to add the proper stickers and seals to the container to ensure the packaging meets the legal standard.

McQuade gives the state’s Cannabis Control Board a lot of credit for all the work they’ve put into the retail cannabis initiative.

“They’ve really pulled off an amazing feat,” she said. “They’re working so hard because they want to see a successful system.”

She chose Main Street strategically.

“One of the reasons I wanted to be on Main Street is like, I’ve always loved it,” she said. “I’ve seen more businesses open in the industry, and I just want to be a part of that.”

McQuade hopes her business will increase foot traffic downtown. She didn’t want to have a lonely storefront in the middle of nowhere. She wanted to help boost the economy and community.


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