Article by Mark McNeil, The Hamilton Spectator
It was a scene that would have been unimaginable a few years ago.
On the 20th day of April — the celebratory day for pot users known as “4/20” — Hamilton’s Mayor Fred Eisenberger cut a ribbon to open the city’s first legal cannabis store at the Centre on Barton.
Yes, pot is now legally for sale in Hamilton in a shopping mall that also has a Walmart and a Canadian Tire.
“This is actually a hallmark day for the city of Hamilton,” Eisenberger told the crowd. “Small business is important for the city of Hamilton. This is a legal product. And we certainly want people to consume it safely.
“I see a wonderful store, a wonderful location and a wonderful opportunity to buy a legal product safely that is controlled.”
Afterwards, conversation evolved to a former mayoral opponent of Eisenberger — Michael Baldasaro, who died in 2016 after numerous unsuccessful political campaigns centred on legalizing pot.
“I have a souvenir campaign poster of Michael Baldasaro in my office at home,” said Eisenberger. “And I can tell you Michael would be the happiest guy on the planet today. I had great respect for Michael. He was forecasting what should and could happen with cannabis and unfortunately he isn’t here to see it after all these years.”
The lineups at Canna Cabana started at 6 a.m. for the 9 a.m. opening, although there were reports of a few people showing up at 4:20 a.m. so they could further bask in the 4/20 theme of the day.
Francine Larabee was the fourth in line and ended up spending $150 on various products.
“I never thought I’d see this day in a million years,” she said. “I can’t believe it.”
Matt Jackson also spent $150, which he figures is double what it would have cost on the street.