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News & Policy Grow Business

This is what it's like to buy cannabis at Toronto's first legal dispensary (PHOTOS)

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Peter Smith Apr 01, 2019 8:03 am 14,435

The first thing you notice, after working your way through the crowd of people is customers paying with debit. It’s an unusual sight; a change from the cash-only policies of unregulated cannabis dispensaries that used to line Queen Street.

Toronto’s first legal cannabis store has opened its doors today, and the city was eager to greet it. The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co., located at 202 Queen St. West in Toronto, opened its doors at 9 am on Monday to a line that quite literally wrapped around the end of the street.

By 10 am, customers who had been waiting since before the store opened were still in line. Shuffling slowly towards the front.

Peter Nolan-Smith / Daily Hive

The first person in line was a dedicated woman who had brought a tent with her and camped out overnight.

“Someone had to be first,” she told the media surrounding her.

Peter Nolan-Smith / Daily Hive

The owner, Hunny Gawri, a Mississauga Realtor, confirmed to Grow he is the licensee on the property. His store is the only one in Toronto that was able to open its doors by April 1, the earliest privately owned retail stores could open their doors in Ontario.

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Customers make their way inside for an ID check and are then greeted by one of the establishments many budtenders. They lead the customer through the various honeycombed shaped displays, each full of a small sample of the various strains of cannabis available for purchase on the four floors of retail space.

Each one is easily spotted by their large smile and ‘Honey Pot’ black shirts.

Peter Nolan-Smith / Daily Hive

Bongs, vaporizers and accessories line the walls, along with numerous versions of Hunny Pot’s logo.

Orders are entered into tablets by the staff and customers led to the cashier to pick up their purchase and pay.

Peter Nolan-Smith / Daily Hive

The store was joined by other dispensaries across the province that were able to obtain approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

The race is on for the remaining Toronto locations to obtain final approval. The AGCO, also seems to understand the pressure they’re under. The regulator chose to tweet out a link to a complete list of the 10 stores across Ontario licensed to open.

cannabis stores

AGCO’s 10 approved cannabis retail stores to open as of April 1, 2019. (AGCO)

Besides The Honey Pot Cannabis Co in Toronto, Ottawa will see three stores open, Kingston will get two, as well as one in Burlington, Brampton, London, and St. Catherines.

Of the four other Toronto licensees, Ameri, the first application for Toronto submitted to the AGCO, listed at 20 Cumberland St, a short walk from the Royal Ontario Museum, and Nova Cannabis, on 499 Queen St West, parallel to the city’s iconic Graffiti Alley, have both finished their period of public notice, but has yet to be issued final approval, according to the AGCO’s website.

Local cannabis fixture, Tokyo Smoke, lending their name to the former location of the HMV flagship location at 333 Young Street, and the most recent application for a Toronto Canna Cabana location, has been submitted to the AGCO to set up shop at 435(B) Yonge St., near College Station, are both still in their period of public notice, that will not end until after the April 1 deadline, according to the AGCO.

When Doug Ford was elected premier over incumbent Kathleen Wynne, he followed through on his promise to move the province away from a publicly owned chain of cannabis stores to a private retail model.

Twenty-five applicants were selected to be given retail licenses during an independent lottery in January, after Ontario limited the amount given out to avoid the shortages that plagued the country, causing a freeze on store licenses in Alberta, and reduced hours of operation in Quebec.

© 2019 Buzz Connected Media Inc.