After months of anticipation, Ontario's first legal brick-and-mortar pot shops are expected to open today. Prior to April 1st, the only way to legally purchase cannabis in Ontario was through a government-operated website.
While the provincial government had initially intended to launch 25 stores throughout Ontario today, many remain in limbo as they await government approval. Although the government had originally planned for the number of retail outlets to be uncapped, ultimately, only 25 licenses were issued to stores due to national supply issues.
Across Ontario, only 10 retail stores are expected to open their doors today. Here is what you need to know about each of them:
The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. - Toronto
The four-level store at 202 Queen Street West is the first legal cannabis retail outlet to open in the city. According to the store's communications officer who spoke to CP24 yesterday, the team at The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. couldn't be more excited for customers to finally experience the space.
Cameron Brown told CP24, "Our focus from the very beginning was to open on April 1 at 9 a.m. and we never wavered from that. We knew that we wanted to be open to make that first sale and the fact that we are the first Toronto retailer to be open and to make that first sale in the biggest market in Canada, I can’t express how excited we are about that."
According to Brown, "We have a ton of education with the budtenders on the product side but also the story behind every little piece that we put into here so we are really excited for the customers to see it. We went very heavy on staff because it’s very important that people coming through the door get the full Hunny Pot experience. They’ve (the staff) have been in training all week on the products, training on the process and making sure that we have everything down to be able to flow if we have two people here tomorrow or 10,000 people."
The first person to line up outside the shop was Marie Kamara, who pitched a tent on the sidewalk just outside Hunny Pot Cannabis yesterday. She reportedly explained that this was a "historic moment."
The Niagara Herbalist - St. Catharines
Located in a busy commercial plaza at 33 Lakeshore Rd., Unit 15., the owners of The Niagara Herbalist are ready to serve customers. "We were probably more excited winning this than winning $50-million — for me at least," the store's owner, Max Bonilla told The St. Catharines Standard. "That's my passion. It's a vocation, it's a job, it's everything we could wish for and strive for in life."
Ganjika House - Brampton
Located in Brampton at 186 Main Street South, Ganjika House is ready to open its doors at 9:00 AM this morning. According to the company's website, Ganjika House is a cannabis retail company that has "thoughtful goals and a mission of kindness."
"The Ganjika House in-store experience encourages visitors to explore a wide variety of premium cannabis products while being immersed in an environment of positivity and acceptance. At Ganjika House, both the seasoned cannabis connoisseur and the new canna-curious consumer will feel comfortable. Well trained, knowledgeable and friendly staff will help you decide which products are best suited for you."
Superette - Ottawa
One of Ottawa's three cannabis retail stores is located at 1306 Wellington Street West. According to a report by CTV News, the store's owners Mimia Lam and Drummond Munro "want to make cannabis comfortable for everyone."
Munro told CTV News, "We want to create something that hasn’t been done before. It's a new industry. People are unsure; even if they've been to a black market dispensary, there's this feeling of doing something wrong. We want to create an environment where people feel good about being in this store."
Central Cannabis - London
Central Cannabis, located at 666 Wonderland Road North, at Oxford Street West, will be the first to cannabis store to open in London at 9 a.m. April 1. The store's consultant, hired by Cannabis Central's owner, Chris Comrie, to prepare the store for its public opening, told CBC News, "It's not going to be your typical cannabis store, [in terms of] what people picture when they think of a head shop."
SpiritLeaf - Kingston
Located at Unit 101, 27 Princess Street, SpiritLeaf aims to provide a high-quality cannabis experience for all customers. The store is striving to be "the most knowledgeable and trusted source of recreational cannabis", offering a premium consumer experience with its own brand of high-quality products.
RELM Cannabis Co. - Burlington
Burlington's first legal pot shop, located at 103-4031 Fairview St. is set to open at 9 a.m. today. "We didn't waste any time," reported David Nguyen to The Hamilton Spectator, president of RELM. "I got a crew together and we just went at it."
Fire & Flower York Street Cannabis - Ottawa
Fire & Flower is "here to give Canadians the educated and curated experience they deserve." Located at 129 York St, the store has "thoughtfully" handpicked each strain of cannabis to to maximize customer experience. The store's Cannistas are prepared and ready to share insights, easy-to-follow advice and education.
Brock Street Cannabis - Kingston
Kingston's second location is under the name Brock Street Cannabis and is located blocks away from the city's other cannabis retail store downtown. The Alberta-based Fire and Flower team is also behind the Brock Street Cannabis store.
Hobo Recreational Cannabis Store - Ottawa
Located at 391 Bank St. near Gladstone Avenue, Hobo Recreational Cannabis Store is a Canadian collection of privately-owned retail cannabis stores with locations in B.C. and Ontario set to open starting April 2019. Hobo is committed to the consumer experience, and making the cannabis buying experience disarming, compassionate and human.