Article by Sudbury Star
Sudbury’s two pot stores are closed for the next two weeks as part of a provincial government order to limit the spread of COVID-19.
High Tide Inc. said it shuttered its Sudbury store as of 11:59 p.m. Saturday. The Canna Cabana is located on Long Lake Road.
The city’s other pot store, Highlife Cannabis, is located in the Rio Can Centre on Marcus Drive.
High Tide said all retail workers at its Ontario stores have been temporarily laid off as the company awaits updates from the province.
“To mitigate the economic headwinds being caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are optimizing staffing levels across the organization, working with landlords to abate or defer rent, minimizing operating expenses and delaying capital expenditures wherever possible,” Raj Grover, president and chief executive officer.
“Despite the temporary forced closures in Ontario, our 27 other retail cannabis stores across Alberta and Saskatchewan remain open for the time being, while Grasscity.com has recently experienced a doubling of its average weekly sales as people around the world are increasingly shopping online from the safety of their homes for their smoking accessories and cannabis lifestyle products.”
Pot stores were exempt from the provincial government’s order in March requiring all non-essential services in Ontario to close.
However, on April 3, the province revised the order and all retail cannabis stores were removed from the Ontario’s list of essential workplaces.
Hide Tide said it had aleady “implemented significant measures to protect the health and wellbeing” of its customers across Canada in response to the pandemic.
“High Tide continues to monitor the situation closely while keeping its retail locations and wholesale facilities open, where permitted.”
Some pot retailers are warning the Ontario government’s decision to shut down cannabis stores will only send customers back to the black market where they’ll buy unregulated products.
Cameron Brown, spokesman for The Hunny Pot, says his company has two stores open already and four under construction. The company’s location in downtown Toronto was one of the first to open in April 2019 and has been doing brisk enough business that more stores are on the way.
He said after Premier Doug Ford announced pot shops would be closed due to COVID, his store in Toronto and another location in Burlington were swamped.
“As soon as that announcement came in both stores were lined up around the corner, doing double the business than in previous days,” Brown said Sunday as he worked filing compliance reports with the Ontario Cannabis Store.
“We are about to give everything back,” Brown said of the inevitable growth in the black market if stores like his remain closed.
Brown also said illegal pot shops and online delivery services are targeting his locations with advertising for customers who may not realize the shops were forced to close.
“I go up to our store in the Junction and there is a sticker up saying text to get weed,” Brown said. “We are pushing people to unregulated product.”
The industry is hoping that the province will reconsider and allow the stores to keep selling even if they don’t allow customers inside.
“Curbside pick-up or delivery are options that most retailers in Ontario could handle,” Brown said.
Ontario declared a state of emergency on March 24 in response to the pandemic.
All business except those deemed essential has been shut down.