By Sam Odrowski
Orangeville Citizen

Orangeville residents will soon have more options for purchasing legal cannabis locally.

Hempire House (59 First Street) is having its grand opening March 1 and will be the second official cannabis storefront in town.

It’s a locally owned, family run business, operated by two couples who are proud cannabis consumers – eager to share their knowledge and join the legal market.

“We’re actually from Orangeville, so it’s very special to us to be able to bring this cannabis industry into our own community,” said Sharlene, part owner and head of communications at Hempire House.

“We’re actually operated by two brothers, alongside their wives, with myself being one of them. We’ve just had a long-time passion for the cannabis industry and definitely wanted to be on the forefront of being able to provide safe legal cannabis.”

While some individuals in the cannabis industry are strictly focused on making money, Sharlene stressed that Hempire House is driven by their love for the product.

“We know through starting this company that there’s a good amount of individuals who have landed in this industry for the sake of the business and not necessarily for the passion behind the product, and wanting to see the growth of the industry from a personal perspective,” she noted.

Sharlene said the focus for the business is creating not only an educational experience for customers but an interactive one as well.

For the store’s more popular strains, sensory jars will be set up, where customers can view the cannabis, see the differences in appearance, and when COVID-19 is over, there will be a smell feature.

“We’re also going to have the budtenders on hand that are going to just be armed with so much knowledge that they can’t wait to share with the community,” said Sharlene.

Hempire House has been in the works since January of last year and had its final inspection by the provincial government in July of 2020. Since that time, the owners have been eagerly waiting for the final green light to move forward and open their doors.

When comparing legal cannabis to the black market, Sharlene noted that there are many benefits.

“All legal cannabis is regulated… these products have to undergo stringent tests and they have to pass multiple tests before they can even be brought on to the market,” she explained.

“The testing ensures that they’re free of pesticides, ensures that they don’t have any metals… it ensures that only safe, clean products are coming out.”

Sharlene says going from black market cannabis to legal cannabis is similar to going from conventionally grown vegetables to organic in the sense that consumers can know exactly how their marijuana is grown, where it’s grown, and how it’s processed.

“It’s really getting to the story of where your products are coming from and really having that education behind it,” she explained.

The other major benefit of legal cannabis is it generates tax revenue and takes money away from the black market, Sharlene told the Citizen.

There’s typically a lot more options in the legal market as well. Instead of just having access to flower or edibles, cannabis consumers can shop for topicals, tinctures, sprays, extracts, and other forms of the product at licensed storefronts.

Sharlene told the Citizen that the whole team at Hempire House is ecstatic about opening day and they can’t wait to start serving legal cannabis to the community.

“We were all cannabis consumers before we ever created a cannabis retail brand, so the excitement is just through the roof and to be quite honest… we really just want to be able to do it for the people, we really want to be able to recognize what it is that the consumers actually want,” she said.

While the grand opening will be lowkey and small in size, due to the pandemic, Sharlene said it will be a special day for the community – increasing their options for safe and legal cannabis.

“Given the fact that we’re opening during these unprecedented times, it’s obviously not going to be the grand opening we had initially anticipated when this all came rolling about, but given the situation, we’re still hoping to perhaps do just a little bit of a ribbon cutting ceremony,” said Sharlene. “Nothing too long or lengthy.”