The Alcohol and Gaming Commission has listed a second potential location for a cannabis retail outlet in Hamilton: That means Hamilton is poised to have a store on Barton Street and another in Dundas as early as April first, when the law will first allow retail cannabis sales in Ontario.
Hello Cannabis is not unfamiliar at the intersection of Cootes Drive and Dundas street, the company already operates a medicinal cannabis service there. The new retail location for recreational cannabis users, if approved, will be across the parking lot in Ted McMeekin’s old volunteer headquarters.
Hello Cannabis founder Stephen Verbeek partnered with one of the winners of the Ontario cannabis retail store lottery for Hamilton.
Verbeek says, “We do have a very interesting concept that is very Canadiana and very Dundas but i’m going to try to hold it for the very large grand opening we’re going to have. And have a wow factor when people come in. It will be very different from the typical black market dispensaries Hamilton is used to”
Although police have new tools to keep illegal dispensaries closed once they’re busted. Shops still advertise on social media and open in temporary locations.
“We currently sit at about 14 illegal stores. Now we’ll have two legal ones. We’re hoping that we’ll evenutally just have legal dispensaries in the city.” says Deputy Chief Dan Kinsella of Hamilton Police
Kinsella says there was at one time more than 80 illegal dispensaries, so clearly there’s a high demand for cannabis in Hamilton but illegal stores involve and attract crime. Just this past weekend a man was shot during a robbery at an illegal dispensary. Kinsella says the next stage should be stiff sentences in court. He says, “The penalty has to outweigh the gain. We haven’t had any court decisions yet. We wait patiently for those decisions.”
And the wait for legal cannabis retail continues. The first Hamilton location announced is at the Centre on Barton which may be open by April first. Hello Cannabis on Cootes will likely open later.