Colleen McQuade's Juniper Lane is set to open Wednesday morning.

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BENNINGTON — Recreational marijuana is coming to downtown Bennington.

A major hurdle was cleared Wednesday, as Colleen McQuade received her retail license from Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board.

McQuade is tentatively aiming to open Juniper Lane at 445 Main St. in early November, but said there are still plenty of logistical boxes to check before that can happen.

“I have to get my team trained. I have to get supplies in here. I still have to get a hard copy of my license from the Cannabis Control Board,” McQuade said Thursday.

McQuade’s plate might be full right now, but it seems her heart is, too. She is clearly excited to get started.

“Cannabis heals people,” she said. “That’s the connection for me. I know I’ve helped so many people. I’ve talked to so many people where cannabis changed their lives.”

McQuade said her Main Street neighbors and the Bennington community have been welcoming and cooperative.

“Everyone’s been really great to me. Very friendly. I feel like I’m in one of the best spots on the street,” she said with a smile. “I’ve had such support from the Better Bennington Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce, all the downtown organizations, even the town of Bennington. Everyone has been very supportive.”

McQuade is looking forward to returning the favor.

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“I want it to be friendly. I want people to feel welcome here,” she said, gesturing to the chairs and stools already set up in her shop. “I want it to be a place of community where people can gather … come in and get some education, make a new friend. I’m really hoping I can foster that.”

In addition to believing in its healing qualities, being able to sell cannabis carries some special meaning for McQuade, who received her license as part of the Cannabis Control Board’s social equity program, because her father was incarcerated for a cannabis-related offense — a special criterion of the social equity licensing process.

Additionally, McQuade herself was arrested for cannabis possession in Maryland about 10 years ago, and while the charges have since been expunged, it changed her life, and set her on the course she’s on now.

“I couldn’t be a social worker anymore, so I went and started selling glass pipes and became a wholesaler,” she explained. “And then when I got the case expunged, I got into medical cannabis.”

McQuade said she has most of her crew hired, and now just needs to get them trained. She’s aiming to have 10 to 15 people on board.

McQuade would like to be open seven days a week, but days and hours of operation are still somewhat up in the air, and will be dictated by demand from the community, and a new cannabis infrastructure getting off the ground in Vermont.

“It looks like it’ll be a flower-dominated market early on,” she said. “No one’s ready yet. It’s pretty early on for everybody. Manufacturers are just getting licensed the same as I was yesterday.”

McQuade said she is hoping to have a small selection of edibles available from day one, and once all the kinks are worked out with local growers and suppliers, move into seltzers and packaged products.

Tory Rich can be reached at trich@manchesterjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter: @ToryRich6


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