Finally, the countdown for customers is over. A pot shop has officially opened in the city of Oshawa.
It’s been a long time coming for some customers waiting for the doors to open.
“I’m feeling very excited,” says O’Dell Davidson. “We’ve been waiting for months. It’s just something nice to be able to go to, where you don’t have to go to the black market.”
Others likened it to ‘the greatest place on earth.’
“It’s kind of like a Disneyland in there sometimes,” says another customer who wished to stay anonymous.
Originally named ‘Fabulous Leaf’, the shop was slated to be one of the 25 original brick-and-mortar cannabis storefronts to be opened in April of this year. But after extensive delays, owner Jacob Stevens changed the name and opted to partner with ‘Tokyo Smoke’, a familiar brand already open in Toronto.
“The main holdup was finding the right partner,” Stevens said. “We wanted to find one that we felt most comfortable with and would provide us the best services.”
Because of those delays, Stevens lost out on his $50,000 letter of credit. But says it’s all part of the process, he says.
“It has its challenges like any new business,” Stevens says. “It’s a learning curve.”
Rob Sargent happened to be first in line at the shop. He has a chronic illness and says having more legal access is important.
“When you’re sick and you have to do illegal options to get what you need, you know, we don’t want to be criminalized when you need something right,” Sargent says.
Just down the highway from Tokyo Smoke, is Smok in Ajax. Owner Alex Altman says business has been booming since he opened, and he welcomes the competition.
WATCH: Ajax pot shop Smok Cannabis opens for business
“There’s a lot of people to go around,” says Altman. “It’s a big place in Durham here. Two stores, I imagine, will support quite a bit more.”
This location and Smok are the only legal options between Toronto and Kingston — a fact that’s a huge inconvenience, according to some customers.
“It’s terrible, it’s absolutely ridiculous,” says Sargent. “It doesn’t touch the margins of what’s actually needed.”
Evidence of that need can be seen with the number of illegal dispensaries that continue to open in the City of Toronto. Over the past few weeks, owners of one store, CAFE, have repeatedly re-opened the stores — regardless of the fines and being shut down by police.
O’Dell says that although it’s illegal, he understands what they are doing.
“They laid the groundwork for legalization, they deserve to have their doors open. There needs to be more stores.”
It’s a fact of which the government is well aware. Earlier this month, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the rollout of 50 more stores later this year, eight of which will be for First Nations.
This is after another lottery is held for the licences.