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Will Kingston’s cannabis ‘joints’ be open on time?

It's a race against time to get two pot stores in Kingston ready to open on April 1st.

It’s a race against time to get two pot stores in Kingston ready to open on April 1.

Two Alberta-based companies have planned to open cannabis stores in Kingston next week. Spiritleaf is currently rushing to open their location at the corner of Princess and Ontario streets, and Fire and Flower are in the midst of prepping their 75 Brock Street location.

“They are working night and day as far as we can tell. And that is what the neighbour businesses report as well,” says Doug Richie, managing director of the Downtown Kingston BIA.

READ MORE: Council votes to allow cannabis shops in Kingston

At the new Spiritleaf location the work continues inside.

“I’ve had a peek in at one location already and they are going to be beautiful stores,” says Richie.

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“Honestly, we have no objections to it,” says Guy Paquette, owner of Bagot Leather Goods & Luggage Plus.

Paquette’s leather goods store is across the street from Spiritleaf. He’s been in business for 34 years and welcomes this new infusion in the downtown core.

“Realistically, it’s a legal operation. They are another retailer and from what I heard for the building owners they are a premium operation and premium business owners. And they will operate their business in that way and we’re looking forward to it,” says Paquette.

But will the stores be open in time?

The 25 successful lottery winners awarded a licence to operate a cannabis store in Ontario — including Spiritleaf, that are aiming for the government’s set target of April 1.

“Construction is 90 per cent completed on the store and barring any unforeseen circumstances we will be open on April 1st. We are still awaiting our AGCO licence but our store and staff will be ready for April 1st,” said Heidi Gammuac with Spiritleaf.

The company has partnered with eastern Ontario cannabis lottery winner Daniel Telio to open their downtown location, which Gammuac says will have six full-time and six part-time employees.

If the store doesn’t open by April 1, that could mean a losing the entirety of $50,000 line of credit each of the winners needed to secure in order to move forward in the process.

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According to the AGCO, if the lottery winners are not ready to open by April 1, the AGCO will draw $12,500 of that line of credit. If the store is not opened until April 15, another $12,500 will be withdrawn. By the end of the month, the AGCO will draw $25,000 from the line of credit and those on the wait list will be notified that they are able to apply for a licence.

According to Nathan Missin, vice-president of government and stakeholder relations for Fire and Flower, the Alberta-based company planning to open a cannabis store on Brock Street, they’re opening date is set for April 5.

Missin says they have about 25 employees hired for the store, and that Fire and Flower has partnered with one of the eastern Ontario cannabis lottery winners, Brandon Long, in order to open their Brock Street location.

READ MORE: Large cannabis retailer partnering with AGCO lottery winner to open Kingston store

The Downtown Kingston BIA is on board with the operators choosing to open in the core.

“It’s another important peg in the puzzle about being a full-service downtown, with a heavy lean towards entertainment, facilities and tourism centre. It’ll be great,” says Richie.

And with the possibility of more foot traffic and a new customer demographic for other retailers around two of Ontario’s first brick and mortar cannabis stores, Paquette says: “To me, if it’s a consumer, it’s a consumer. And we are just happy there is someone on the street corner across the street from us.”

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