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First Quebec Cannabis Café to Serve Prescription Users Opens in Montreal: Inside Hälsa’s Unique Approach

In Montreal, journalist Louis-Philippe Messier travels mostly on the run, his desk in his backpack, on the lookout for fascinating subjects and people. He speaks to everyone and is interested in all walks of life in this urban chronicle.

At the counter of the very first business to specialize in prescription cannabis in Quebec, THC lollipops and macarons sit next to hand creams, massage oil and even condoms coated with CBD lubricant.

Everyone asks the owner of the cannabis café Hälsa (which means health in Swedish) the same question: “Is it going to be legal?”

“Yes, 100% legal. There will be a doctor permanently accessible by Skype. We followed all the procedures required by Health Canada. We have been at it for eight months and the permit should be awarded to us within two weeks,” says Richard Harton. Be careful, only those with a medical cannabis prescription will be able to consume products there.

“Most of the clientele will be made up of sick or suffering people looking for the cannabis product best suited to their condition in order, for example, to make nausea disappear during chemotherapy, to stop tremors or to soothe chronic pain,” explains the man who co-founded the Canadian Cannabis Association in 2019.

Mr. Harton shows me his permit issued by the City of Montreal, which he has already obtained and displayed in his large premises decorated like Alice in Wonderland on Saint-Denis Street opposite Saint-Bock.

“The SQDC takes care of the recreational aspect… Hälsa will take care of the medical side. I want us to become the Rachelle Béry of medical cannabis.”

The café wants to offer a wide variety of medical cannabis to allow patients to shop and choose wisely. Louis-Philippe Messier

At the moment, sick patients who have a prescription are often destitute and left to their own devices, deplores Mr. Harton.

“They are told to go online and there is no one to advise them. At the pharmacy, we order the product for them and they have to come back another day to pick it up. That does not make any sense.”

“We will offer advice to guide people, there will be conferences, we will even offer DNA tests to help find the best choice based on the patient’s genetics.”

Mr. Harton hands me a display containing a huge pot of fragrant Grape Kush marijuana.

A few holes under a tab allow me to smell its powerful scent.

“That way people will be able to smell without touching the product.”

Louis-Philippe Messier

No minors or foreigners

Obviously, even if pre-rolled joints will be offered, there will be no question of smoking them on site. The tobacco law applies.

Food will be provided, but there will be no alcohol.

Not only will minors not have access, but also… foreigners!

“It’s with Health Canada, it’s aimed at Canadian citizens.”

Too bad for the tourists!

Mr Harton has set up a refrigerated vault with a state-of-the-art anti-theft system in the basement.

It is already accepting resumes to hire its staff.

“My brother spent two and a half years with stage 4 cancer enjoying a great quality of life thanks to medical cannabis. That’s why I adopted this cause,” confides this former STM employee who lives off his pension and says he has invested everything in his business.

I wish Mr. Harton that it works! I can’t wait to see how things will go in this first Montreal cannabis café.

The Hälsa café counter has several curiosities. Louis-Philippe Messier

2024-04-12 23:33:06
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