Article by Paul Morden, Sarnia Observer
Another cannabis retailer has plans to open a store in Sarnia.
Sessions Cannabis, which has retail outlets in a number of Ontario communities, says it’s seeking permission from the Ontario Alcohol and Gaming Commission to open a store in a plaza at 600 Murphy Rd., next to the Real Canadian Superstore.
No regulated cannabis stores have opened in Sarnia since Canada legalized the recreational use of marijuana in October 2018, but another retailer, Natures Buds, has applied to the commission to open in a unit of the 1362 Lambton Mall Rd. plaza.
“I think Sarnia is a really great market that has been overlooked,” said Steven Fry, CEO of Sessions Cannabis. “We found a really great location, and we’re really excited to be in the Superstore plaza.”
Sessions said the Sarnia store is expected to have 10 employees. He hopes the location can receive permission from the commission and open soon.
Ontario announced in late 2019 it was abandoning its previous lottery system for cannabis retail, moving to an open licensing system and removing a cap on the number of private cannabis stores across the province.
“The operator that we’ve partnered with is local, and he’s in the fuel business” in Sarnia, Sessions said, “so it’s a natural fit.”
Armarjit Singh is the licensed operator for Sessions’ proposed Sarnia store.
“The location itself is ideal with long-standing businesses nearby, and an easy-to-access storefront,” Singh said in a news release. “We know that this market has been waiting for a brand that can provide both great quality, affordable products and stellar customer service.”
Fry said Sessions has begun the process of seeking permission from the commission for the Sarnia store. As of Tuesday morning, its application wasn’t listed on the commission’s website, www.agco.ca, or on its map of applications in process.
“We should be on the map really, really soon,” Fry said.
In May, the commission said 57 retail cannabis stories had been authorized to open in Ontario.
Under Ontario’s two-stage licensing process, applications first apply for a cannabis retail operator licence and then submit an application for a retail store authorization.
The process includes a 15-day public notice period when residents of the community can make written submissions to the commission.
Before issuing a licence, the commission undertakes a comprehensive assessment of the applicant, including police and background checks, the commission said.
Fry said Sessions Cannabis has been through the approval process several times for its other locations, and “we’re more than confident” the Sarnia store will be allowed to open soon.
“We’ll be swinging hammers in no time and really hoping to get open this summer, or sooner if we can.”
Fry said the company also has stores planned for Windsor and added, “We may have a second one in Sarnia we’re considering.”
Its other locations include Kitchener, Welland, Toronto, Hamilton, Collingwood, Orillia and Brockville.