As Toronto’s only operating cannabis retail store opened to the public on Monday – the first day marijuana stores are legally allowed to do so in Ontario – a few customers who use wheelchairs and mobility devices weren’t easily able to access the Hunny Pot Cannabis Co.
Jordan Dragiz went to Queen Street West business, near University Avenue, Monday afternoon to buy assorted cannabis products. After waiting in a lengthy line, Dragiz discovered there wasn’t a ramp at the front door. He had to be helped into and out of the store with the assistance of staff and without his wheelchair, which Dragiz had to leave on the sidewalk.
“I wasn’t shocked. I was kind of expecting this. But I wasn’t sure if there’s going to be a ramp or not. I’m more shocked they don’t have a ramp,” he told Global News.
“All these buildings are pretty old … I was wondering what I was going to do, how I was going to get in. But good thing they were nice enough to help me in.”
When contacted by Global News to ask about the lack of accessibility at the front entrance, a spokesperson for the Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. said customers raised accessibility concerns with store staff.
“We fully accommodated those individuals. Today, up to four individuals came through with accessibility needs including wheelchair and each were able to purchase product,” Kate Johnny told Global News in a written statement Monday evening, adding the owner is working with consultants to rectify known issues.
“We do have a temporary ramp that we can bring in to let them come into the store and the ability for our bud tenders to bring the point-of-sale and products directly to the individual who currently cannot access the third and fourth floor retail spaces.”
Global News attended the store Monday evening in order to see the temporary ramp described in the statement. However, a representative said they weren’t able to display the ramp due to a line-up of customers.
When asked about the situation at the Hunny Pot Cannabis Co., Ontario’s minister of seniors and accessibility said he was disappointed to hear about the lack of a fully accessible entrance.
“I can tell you that all businesses need to adhere to the Ontario Building Code, which says that any new or considerably renovated building needs to be accessible for people with disabilities,” Minister Raymond Cho told Global News in a statement.
“I am reviewing the matter immediately and will be working very closely with my colleague, the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, as well as my other colleagues who are engaged on this issue on ensuring that we take a full government approach to accessibility.”
The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co. received one of five licences allocated for the city of Toronto by the Ontario government. According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission website, there are three store applications being reviewed. The final licence holder has been authorized by the AGCO, but hasn’t received its final approval to open.
It’s not clear when exactly the remaining Toronto stores will be open to the public.
WATCH:Toronto’s only operating cannabis retailer not wheelchair accessible on opening day