Article by Tim Meeks, Intelligencer
Even the rapidly expanding cannabis trade has suffered as government licensed retail outlets had to be placed in a state of flux as federal, provincial and municipal governments scrambled to offer supports to keep people safe while trying to safely reopen the economy without causing the coronavirus to spiral out of control.
According to the website www.dispensariesnearme.ca there are nearly 700 medical and recreational cannabis dispensaries in Ontario, although the openings of many of those retail shops has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the Liberal government legalized cannabis back in October of 2017, cannabis consumers in the Quinte region haven’t really noticed the fact there were no legal government licensed dispensaries in the area, since more than 70 medical and recreational shops have popped up all over Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. At first most of the shops were located in trailers and garages, but now there are many brand new, shiny bricks and mortar boutiques featuring all the bells and whistles, and with the expert staff to answer any questions a customer might have.
But as Mark Phillips, owner of Island Smoke at 220 Dundas St. E., Trenton — the first government licensed, legal cannabis retail outlet between Kingston and Oshawa — points out about the Tyendinaga shops, “they’re not selling government marijuana.”
Currently Kingston has five legal retail cannabis stores in operation with two more soon to open. In Belleville there is only one store, Yield Cannabis Co., which is expected to open soon at 110 North Front Street. There are also two shops set to open shortly in Picton — ERBN Green at 126 Main Street and Fridays Cannabis at 190 Main Street.
Most of the shops were expected to be open by now, but the pandemic spoiled the party. Most of the shops have websites, some are family owned and operated while others are part of nation-wide chains like Fire and Flower Cannabis Co. in Kingston.
“The pandemic slowed things down, but our licenses are all in place and we’re ready to go. We’re very excited to be starting something completely new for us,” said Phillips, who also owns Mystical Distributing Fireworks.
Island Smoke is scheduled to officially open Monday, Sept. 14.