A process that has taken about 3 ½ years will come to fruition this weekend when Porterville's first cannabis dispensary opens its doors.

Haven Dispensaries, a Southern California dispensary chain that continues to expand, will open in the building where Letsinger Reality was located at the corner of Morton and Main this weekend. Haven will open today for family members of employees and all those involved in the development of the dispensary in a friends and family event today.

The dispensary will then open to the public on Saturday. The dispensary's hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

An event for city dignitaries is planned for next week. A grand opening for the dispensary is planned for January.

Today's friends and family event is actually a chance for the employees to go through a dress rehearsal, so to speak, as they will deal with their friends and family as customers before opening to the public on Saturday. Employees were still seen in the store on Thursday, role playing, as they continued to go through training.

The dispensary's employees have gone through six weeks of training. Johnnie Hernandez, head of retail for Haven's dispensaries, said more there were more than 500 applicants to work at the dispensary. The dispensary will have 20-plus employees and Haven executives have stated every one of the dispensary's employees live in Porterville.

The process for the dispensary to open began in May, 2019.

When customers enter the dispensary they will have to check in at the front desk where they will have to present identification so they can be put into Haven's system. To the right is non-cannabis Haven merchandies and paraphanelia and the sales floor with a large variety of cannabis products is to the left.

“It's a small, little store but it's the perfect site for Porterville,” Hernandez said. “We expect great things out of this place.”

Hernandez said a local business person wanted to check out the place and after checking it out, said, “'It looks classy.' That's what we want. We want to shake the myth what we're doing is sketchy.”

Hernandez said there are many people who have wanted to walk into a dispensary but never have. Hernandez said for people like that he wants them to say “'This feels like home,'' about the dispensary, so “it doesn't feel intimidating.”

Haven describes itself as one of California's preeminent cannabis dispensaries with a world class shopping experience.

Hernandez also talked about Haven's commitment to giving back to the community year-round, stating he wants dispensary employees to give providing volunteer hours and the dispensary to do fund-raising on a monthly basis through its charitable arm, Haven Hearts. Among the non-profit organizations Haven has already been working with is the Central California Family Crisis Center.

"We are elated to call Porterville home. The community has already been so welcoming. We are chomping at the bit to open our doors and provide the residents of Porterville with safe, quality access and cannabis education that they deserve," Hernandez said.

The Haven Porterville store will be Haven's seventh location with another seven licenses in development. Haven stated this makes it one of the fastest growing dispensaries in California.

To learn more about Haven visit myhavenstores.com

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