Article by Doug Schmidt, Windsor Star
Seeing great economic potential with the legalization of cannabis in Canada, Peter Dyck and James Kotyuk launched a new business in Kingsville, True North Compassion.
The young entrepreneurs dream of an eventual bricks-and-mortar storefront, but they’re limited for now to word-of-mouth and online sales of “cannabis products,” including T-shirts, hats and other apparel, as well as information and advice on cannabis and healing.
Based on how well the black market is currently cashing in, however, they’re convinced there’s a huge, as-yet-untapped market out there for legal pot. The problem is that it’s close to impossible in Ontario currently for small entrepreneurs to venture into the legal pot retail sector.
“The whole thing has been handled terribly,” Windsor head shop owner Alex Newman said of how the provincial Tories rolled out pot retail since legalization six months ago. Aside from the online Ontario Cannabis Store, there are only a few private retail stores so far to serve the entire province, the closest one to Windsor being in London, a two-hour drive away.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is now calling on the province and Ottawa to cut red tape and expedite the application process to increase the number of licensed producers (for improved supply) and private retail outlets (for improved consumer access) “as quickly as possible.”
The Doug Ford government has erected signs at the border and is changing vehicle licence plates to declare the province as “open for business,” but the voice of business in Ontario, in a report released Thursday, urges the province to recognize the potential and seize the “multibillion-dollar economic opportunity of recreational cannabis.”
Among the recommendations in the Supporting Ontario’s Budding Cannabis Industry report:
• move quicker on expanding private retail opportunities, including allowing licensed producers to sell directly to consumers;
• engage colleges and universities to work with the cannabis industry to identify skills needed and develop strategies to prepare students for employment opportunities;
• incorporate cannabis-related tourism in the upcoming Ontario Tourism Strategy;
• expand Health Canada’s capacity to license production facilities “at an accelerated rate;”
• invest in scientific research and public education on the health impacts of recreational cannabis use;
• implement stronger mandatory training for cannabis retail operators and employees, particularly with the anticipated approval in the fall of edibles, concentrates and extracts.
James Marcoux of The Urban GreenHouse in Windsor said he has “people walking in literally every day” with ideas and dreams of starting businesses for new products in the cannabis sector.