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First legal pot shop opens in Toronto
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Monday, April 1, 2019 8:06AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 3, 2019 3:03PM EDT
Toronto’s first legal cannabis store opened its doors in Toronto Monday, welcoming pot enthusiasts who lined up early to be among the first through the doors.
The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co., near Queen Street West and University Avenue, opened its doors to customers at 9 a.m., becoming the first legal pot shop in the city.
After purchasing one gram of “white widow” for $12.07, the first customer, who was pre-selected and was part of the store's publicity team, said she plans to try the product after work.
“I’m going to go home, I’m going to grab a coffee and then I’m going to work because I have to get to the office, and then maybe enjoy some of this after the office,” she said.
Some die-hard pot enthusiasts started lining up Sunday evening at the store. By Monday morning, the line had grown to around a dozen people.
Around 20 front-line staff were on-hand in the store to help people select products and answer questions when the doors opened.
While the province handed out five licenses for brick-and-mortar pot shops in Toronto, the Hunny Pot is expected to be the only store in the city to meet the provincially-set opening date today.
“Being one in 25 was already an amazing feeling. Being the first and the only one in Toronto right now is surreal,” Hunny Pot Owner Hunny Gawri told CP24 Monday. “It’s exciting, the team’s pumped. It’s definitely going to be a precedent-setting day and we’re excited to open the doors.”
Other stores that hold licenses could face steep fines for every day that they aren’t open. Those fines could go as high as $50,000 for stores that aren’t open by the end of the month.
However many of the license-holders in Ontario have faced challenges in setting up their stores and navigating the regulatory process. Of the 25 license-holders across the province who won a lottery through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario in January, just ten are expected to open today.
Gawri said he was able to meet the deadline because he was able to assemble the right team, including financing, legal, marketing and front-line staff.
“Right from the second I found out, it was about letting it sink in and then about putting that team together to make sure that we could hit that April 1 deadline,” he said.
Legal marijuana has been available across the country since Oct. 17 of last year. Each province decides how the product will be sold. In Ontario, residents have been able to purchase legal cannabis products through the Ontario Cannabis Store since legalization.
There have been a number of complaints so far about delivery delays and poor supply of products.
Gawri said he’s not concerned about running out of stock.
“I’m confident in the supply. The conversation with the OCS has been very open and they’re confident in the supply as well,” he said. “Just from what we’ve been able to order, we’re confident and they’re bringing on new suppliers every day.”
Two other stores in the GTA also opened their doors to customers Monday.
Employees at Ganjika House in Brampton were prepared for an influx of customers from neighbouring municipalities, as Mississauga, Vaughan and Caledon all opted out of allowing retail cannabis stores within their borders.
Owner Clint Seukeran said he believes the location on Main Street East is ideal because of its proximity to transit and highway access.
“I think it’s courageous of Brampton to take the lead,” he said. “I would say a lot of the municipalities with more than 50,000 people did opt-out. Brampton showed leadership, they showed a good risk appetite and they opted in to have cannabis stores. I think that says a lot.”
In Halton Region, Relm Cannabis Co. opened up on Fairview Street in Burlington.
The store boasts of more than 4,600 square feet of retail space and a parking lot of more than 140 spots for those driving in to make their purchase.
Editor’s Note: This story has been modified to clarify that the first woman to make a purchase at the store was in fact part of the publicity team for The Hunny Pot.