Ontario Cannabis Dispensaries Face Choice of Shutting Down Now For Chance at Licence

Article by Mike Hagar, The Globe and Mail

Ontario cannabis dispensaries face choice of shutting down now for chance at licence MIKE HAGER Business-owner Don Briere says he is about to secure leases on several storefronts across Toronto to fuel an aggressive expansion of his B.C.-based Weeds Glass and Gifts chain, which lists four locations as currently operating in Ottawa and Vancouver. JOHN LEHMANN/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Ontario’s dispensary operators are facing an existential dilemma: Shut down in the hopes of securing a coveted cannabis retail licence from the province by next April or continue selling a drug they say should be made easily available now more than ever.
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Industry insiders expect that owners of many of the 100 or so dispensaries in and around Toronto will plan to go legal. To do so, they will have to shut down their operations by the legalization date of Oct. 17, when the only way to buy legal recreational cannabisin Ontario will be through the provincial government’s online portal.
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On the cusp of federal legalization, business-owner Don Briere says he is about to secure leases on several storefronts across Toronto to fuel an aggressive expansion of his B.C.-based Weeds Glass and Gifts chain, which lists four locations as currently operating in Ottawa and Vancouver.
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The underground entrepreneur, who was once arrested for running B.C.’s largest network of illegal marijuana grow operations in the 1990s, says he plans to pursue licences from the Ontario government to sell the drug. But, Mr. Briere says he will not obey a recent call from the Ontario Progressive Conservative government for these grey-market entrepreneurs to “stop now” and close their stores.
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“At one point in time, I was sentenced to seven years in prison to do what I’m doing right now,” Mr. Briere said. “And if you think they’re going to tell me to stop and I’m going to stop? It’s not going to happen.”

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