Article by Windsor Star
Six months after Ottawa legalized the drug for recreational purposes, the first batch of cannabis retail stores in Ontario is set to open on April 1.
But for Windsor marijuana consumers wanting to access a legal bricks-and-mortar outlet, it will be a four-hour round trip drive to London.
And with only 25 stores set to serve Canada’s biggest province, one local pot activist said the biggest winner of Ontario’s modest start to a new industry will be the black market.
“They’re thanking Doug Ford right now,” said Jon Liedtke, co-host of the Cannabis Act podcast. “This has been the biggest boon to business that they could have seen.”
For now, the province has allocated seven stores to the Ontario West region, encompassing an area that includes Hamilton, London, Niagara and Windsor. Following a lottery by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, the successful applicants selected three sites in London, and two stores each in Hamilton and the Niagara area.
“It’s disappointing, absolutely disappointing,” said Liedtke, the former co-owner of the Higher Limits cannabis lounge in downtown Windsor. “I would have hoped that someone who had received one of the lottery licences would have seen the benefits of opening up down here in Windsor-Essex.”
Supplying the legal market with legal product has remained a big challenge since legalization began last October. When Windsor and other municipalities that were left out might get their own retail stores remains unknown.