As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, business owners and developers have been forced to reevaluate their professional position and plans for an unpredictable future. Many businesses have shifted their focus and professionals have found new opportunities to meet alternative consumer demands. Owen Allerton (right), former Blackberry executive, and his wife, Niki Allerton, felt it was time to leave the corporate world and do something grounded in their community of Kitchener, Ontario. In February 2021, the pair will open Highland Cannabis — a licensed cannabis retail store on Highland Road in Kitchener.
After years of working in corporate environments, Owen observed the stigma around cannabis originating from the clash between the “stoner stereotype” and the high-pressure drive to succeed and perform. Ironically, many who embrace the high-pressure performance culture also glorify alcohol consumption.
“A startup with beer in the fridge is seen as ‘cool’, and it is entirely normal for a sales leader to take a team out for a night on the town resulting in hangovers all around. Those who can “handle their alcohol” are the heros, and those who cannot are playfully mocked.”
Alcohol has many negative long-term effects on the human body if consumed in large quantities, chronic alcohol use has been linked to long-term effects on the cardiovascular system including arrhythmias, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and alcohol-induced congenital heart disease.
“The irony is that Cannabis has been demonized, while the excessive consumption of alcohol - a literal poison - is celebrated. This is why we believe strongly in the normalization and de-stigmatization of Cannabis. With responsible, controlled consumption, Cannabis can be a far more positive element in society.”
As a local, independently owned, family-run retail store, Highland Cannabis is the manifestation of this belief. Far from a “dodgy hole in the wall’’ head shop at almost 2,000 square feet, Highland Cannabis is large, bright, clean, and professionally run, creating an inviting atmosphere for all customers both new and familiar with Cannabis.
“The only effective way to eliminate the illicit market is to replace it with legal products that are superior, safer and readily available. Superior can mean higher quality, but it also reflects the wide range of legal products available, and the precise and reliable labelling of the contents of those products.”
While building a Cannabis retail store during a Pandemic was not without its hurdles - months of delays due to government lockdowns - navigating uncertainty in their opening date at the whim of the Ontario Government and the AGCO - the Allerton’s have have turned 2020 into the beginning of a new chapter for their family, and for Cannabis in the community.
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