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10 of 25 brick and mortar cannabis shops open in Ontario

3 cannabis stores open in Ottawa on April 1


The first wave of legal pot shops opened across the province of Ontario on Monday, April 1, 2019. Three of those stores opened in Ottawa to long lines of consumers and a variety of high-quality controlled products. Toronto had only one cannabis store to open. Ontario originally planned to issue 25 licenses but by Monday, only 10 stores were legally licensed.

The lottery took place in January 2019 to decide who could apply for the first wave of licenses.

Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government said it would start cannabis sales with an online-only retail model, Ontario Cannabis Store, when cannabis was legalized on October 17, 2018, to be followed by private retail sales April 1. This was an abrupt policy change from the former Liberal government, which planned to sell cannabis in government-run pot shops, starting with 40 in 2018.

Ontario was one of the last provinces to announce a model for pot sales as Canada becomes the first Group of Seven country to legalize recreational use nationally. Alberta is approving privately run stores while Quebec plans to sell through its government-run alcohol agency. Legal sales are expected to reach $4.9 billion by 2022, according to a report published Monday by U.S. cannabis research firms Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics.

For those looking to hit Ontario’s brick-and-mortar pot shops, don’t be upset if the shelves are dry, cannabis stores in Ontario were only allowed to order 100 kilograms of pot before the shop could open their doors on April 1. After their initial order, pot shops are allotted a maximum of 25 kilograms of cannabis products a week with orders fulfilled every Monday. According to CBC News, that’s not much more than the 13 to 16 kilograms Alberta-based stores receive every week, an order that usually is sold out the same day it’s delivered.

One of the stores – Hobo was once occupied by the dispensary Cannabis Culture. According to national news media sites - former cannabis dispensary workers or volunteers were among those lining up to make a purchase and eager to check out the decor, the prices and the quality of the weed and to find out just how knowledgeable and friendly the staff are.

Many shoppers were purchasing pot for medical reasons and arrived armed with information on THC and CBD and the exact level amounts they needed in the product. THC is the chemical in cannabis with intoxicating effects, while CBD is another chemical that can be beneficial for inflammation and pain.

According to CBS News, all three stores in Ottawa feature airy, modern, trendy decor designed to make customers feel comfortable shopping for the newly-legal drug. Hobo Recreational Cannabis Store, located on Bank Street in Centretown, held a media availability before opening the doors to the public and explained some of how their location worked. For those new to the cannabis market who may not have much knowledge in terms of which strain they are looking for, the store has a color-coded information system indicating the different effects each strain would have on the consumer. The shop also has trained experts to help answer any questions new consumers may have and help them find the strain that best suits their needs.

And anything that’s offered through Ontario Cannabis Store, Hobo can offer carrying over 700 products - 36 different strains of cannabis.

For some consumers, the prospect of buying product from a retail location eliminates the worry of what the cannabis product could be laced with, knowing they’re buying a safe and clean product is paramount and not having to worry about fentanyl laced pot.

One buyer said, ‘It’s clean and you’re not taking a chance by buying it on the street or through an unlicensed store front.’

Customers are required to bring two pieces of photo identification to prove they are over 19 before entering the building.

The two other shops are, Fire & Flower York Street Cannabis located at 129 York St and the Superette located at 1306 Wellington St. West. Hobo is located at 391A Bank St. All three stores focus on quality, education and choice.


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