Article by Solomon Israel, The Leaf News
In theory, cannabis legalization should be a fantastic business opportunity for head shops across Canada.
But some owners of those cannabis accessory stores fear legalization could actually hurt their businesses, as future legal marijuana stores prepare to sell pipes, bongs and vaporizers alongside cannabis itself.
Aaron Switzer of Ontario’s Happy Dayz head shop chain was “absolutely floored” when he first heard that the Ontario Cannabis Store, a government-owned marijuana monopoly, plans to sell cannabis paraphernalia.
“If the OCS is successful, we can see a very, very dramatic change in what smoke shops have been or will continue to be,” he said.
Switzer expects legalization to encourage new cannabis users, some of whom “have never smoked a day in their life” and could use guidance on high-tech accessories like vaporizers.
“If they put us out of business, then there will be a very small selection, with not a lot of time for explanation, and a lot of people who are really going to be moving out into cannabis use without being properly educated.”
Ultimately, though, Switzer said “this isn’t a cannabis conversation — this is a small business conversation.”
‘Back off and step out’
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business agrees. The organization represents “several dozen” head shops across the country, mostly in Ontario.
“Anywhere where the government is going to encroach on that existing market, we will absolutely, like in Ontario, call for them to back off and step out, because it is unfair to the existing small business owners to have a taxpayer-backed monopoly come into your market,” said Ryan Mallough, CFIB’s senior policy analyst for Ontario.