Article by Nathan Taylor, Orillia Matters
The company behind one of three applications to open a cannabis store in Orillia is confident it will both get its licence and be successful, even if all three get the OK.
Friendly Stranger Holdings Corp., which owns the Happy Dayz chain of cannabis accessory stores, has applied to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) for a licence to operate a retail cannabis shop inside Happy Dayz at 69 Mississaga St. E.
Miss Jones Cannabis Co. and Sessions Cannabis have also applied for licences to set up shop in town.
“I think they’ll all go through,” James Jesty, president of Friendly Stranger Holdings Corp., said of the three applications.
He isn’t concerned about Happy Dayz’ ability to be competitive, and that is in part due to its history in Orillia. It has been in operation for more than 15 years. Friendly Stranger Holdings Corp. acquired the chain, which started in Orillia, about 18 months ago.
“Because of our roots in Orillia and because we have a customer base in Orillia, I’m quite confident,” Jesty said, noting the other two applicants are new businesses. “Orillia is deep in the hearts and minds of the company. Once we were able to apply for a retail cannabis licence, we took the chance.”
The company is currently getting the store ready for an AGCO inspection, which Jesty hopes will happen next week. He’s not sure when a decision will be made on the application, however, since the province is approving only five per week at the moment.
The city has its own criteria for cannabis shops, but final decisions are ultimately up to the AGCO. Among the city’s criteria is that cannabis stores not be located within 150 metres of each other or a methadone clinic. Happy Dayz is closer than 150 metres to both, but Jesty doesn’t expect that will be an issue with the AGCO.
“For another cannabis retailer, I don’t see the importance of that. We are a regulated industry. We are not that different from a regular retailer,” he said. “The undertone of that is somehow there’s something wrong with cannabis retailers and cannabis consumers.”