A crowd of people rushed into Kingston’s first legal recreational cannabis shop when its doors officially opened on Monday morning.
April 1 was the date set by the provincial government to allow bricks-and-mortar cannabis shops to open in Ontario, and Spiritleaf, a branch of a larger cannabis company based out of Alberta, was able to meet the province’s deadline.
Waiting for the crowd of people outside Spiritleaf on Princess Street on Monday morning was a little entertainment, coffee, a red velvet rope and a red ribbon-cutting ceremony with town crier Chris Whyman.
Whyman told the crowd gathered in front of Spiritleaf on Monday that Kingston had made history with the opening of the legal pot shop.
“It’s great. It’s been a long time coming; it’s quite the novelty. It’s good to see a lot of people out here,” said Liam Poucher, who waited in line for the opening on Monday.
The store will carry 90 strains of the plant as well as pre-rolled joints, cannabis oils and merchandise from Up Cannabis, a brand in which Kingston natives The Tragically Hip have invested. It’s actually Kingston’s connection with the quintessentially Canadian band that brought Spiritleaf to the city since the Alberta-based company has an affiliation with Up Cannabis.
“Kingston’s a great city with so much history, and we’re just really thrilled to be welcomed and to be a part of the community,” said Darren Bondar, founder and CEO of Spiritleaf.
There is another cannabis store set to open in Kingston, Fire and Flower — a business also run out of Alberta — but that shop, located downtown on Brock Street, has an opening date of April 5.
According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), just 10 stores have been approved to open in Ontario on April 1. However, operators will determine on their own when they will open.
But opening late could come at a price.
When the store operators were chosen by a lottery system late last year, each of the 25 winners had to put up a $50,000 line of credit.
According to the AGCO, if the stores did not open by April 1, $12,500 of that line of credit could be withdrawn.
The same amount could be withdrawn if the licensees are not open by April 15, while the rest of the line of credit could be withdrawn if the stores are not open by the end of April.
Fire and Flower did not answer when asked if it had to pay the late penalty fee.
— With files from The Canadian Press