Article by Kristine Owram, Bloomberg News
Canada’s most populous province will finally open its first pot shops Monday, nearly six months after legalization. The initial result will be underwhelming, to say the least.
As of Friday, only 10 stores in Ontario had received the necessary licenses to open on April 1. That’s one store per 1.4 million people.
In Toronto, the biggest city in Canada with a population of nearly 3 million, there will be one store ready to open its doors.
Located on the city’s trendy Queen Street West, The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. is run by real estate agent Hunny Gawri. Gawri was lucky enough to win the provincial government’s lottery after it set a temporary initial cap of 25 stores, citing a national supply shortage that’s plagued the industry since recreational pot was legalized in October.
Gawri has hired a public-relations firm to help him manage the media mayhem that’s likely to result from having the only store in a city that’s home to most of the country’s biggest news outlets. Whether customers will be as excited remains to be seen. Ontario residents have been able to buy cannabis legally since Oct. 17 through the government-run Ontario Cannabis Store website, and the black market remains robust due to lower prices and better selection. The illicit market accounted for about 80 per cent of the $5.9 billion (US$4.4 billion) Canadians spent on cannabis in the fourth quarter, according to Statistics Canada.