Downtown neighbourhood welcomes cannabis dispensary set to open April 1
Updated: Apr 4, 2019
The bustling streets of Queen Street West have seen plenty of change over the years. From nuance restaurants, thrift stores, tattoo parlors and clothing outfitters, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say the community has a little bit of everything. That trend continues with the opening of Hunny Pot Cannabis Co., one of the provinces first locations licensed to sell retail cannabis. On Monday, the downtown community warmly accepted its new neighbour, with surrounding store owners expressing their excitement.
Since the announcement in October, the idea of retail cannabis dispensaries has received heavy criticism. The AGCO (Alcohol and Gambling Commission of Ontario) lottery, which promised retail licenses to 25 locations throughout Ontario, is part of Ontario’s plan of a “phased based” approach to rolling out stores across the province. The main criticisms of the plan surrounded how the provincial government planned to control sales of the substance at a retail level, as well as the limited effect 25 locations would have on the illegal market. Despite these concerns, the province announced last month their picks for the stores which will sell legal cannabis. Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. is one of those locations, and despite previous criticism, the response from the surrounding community has been generally positive.
“We have welcomed all sorts of neighbours to the street in the 25 years we have been located on Queen West and this is no different,”said Robin Ellins, founder of the Friendly Stanger, a smoking paraphernalia shop across the street from the planned dispensary.
The store hopes to offer expert advice on the usage and consumption of cannabis, and hopes that their location will offer a convenient experience for those looking for advice or peripherals needed for consumption.
“We encourage people with questions to come around how to best incorporate cannabis into their lives come and chat with our friendly and expert team,” said Ellins in a written statement. “We are here to help them find the right method for consumption to ensure they have a great cannabis experience.”
Those with a mutual interest in the colloquially known “weed” or “pot,” aren’t the only ones who are excited about the new establishment. Andre Rosenbaum, the owner of the Queen Mother Café, a popular destination known throughout Toronto, also expressed his interest in his new neighbour.
“I’d be curious … as a Canadian, Ontarian, and Torontonian, seeing how we will market marijuana and how the system will work,” said Rosenbaum. “I’d be curious to see from a management stand point how the whole operation will be rolled out.”
He also expressed his hopes that the new addition to the neighbourhood may bring more traffic to the area, and possibly more customers. Especially from tourists.
“It will be a novelty, so definitely a lot of people will come down to this neighbourhood for that,” said Rosenbaum. “It would be great if they get the munchies and want to satisfy that urge here,” he added with a grin.
The warm welcome from the surrounding establishments comes despite the fact that Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. won out over other stores on the area that were also bidding for a spot in the AGCO lottery.
“While we were disappointed that we were not accepted for a cannabis retail license, we are excited that as of April 1, people will be able to go into a store and buy cannabis legally,” said Ellis.
Despite recent reports of retail cannabis locations struggling to get their businesses up and running for the April 1deadline, Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. stated in a press release that their stores has recently passed final inspections and will be ready to open on April 1.
The organization also stated their excitement about being the first retail location to open in Toronto.
“The Hunny Pot Experience will set a high bar for the industry, and we’re proud to be making history with the city of Toronto while we’re doing it … we want to give the City of Toronto the experience it deserves,” said Hunny Gawri, the owner of Hunny Pot Cannabis Co., in the press release.
With only days left until the scheduled opening time, cannabis users have little time to wait before they can get their hands on some “green” without the wait associated with ordering form the Canadian Government website.
Until Ontario becomes laxer with its regulations, Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. will be one of 25 locations that will be licensed to sell cannabis in a retail environment. One of five in the Toronto area.