A cannabis company called Tweed opened a modern-designed storefront "patient support centre" on James Street South on Thursday, becoming Hamilton's first retail outlet for medical marijuana.
Company leaders cut a giant red ribbon and served guests brownies — which were "non-medicated", they made sure to mention.
"It's about being here in the community, about engaging with local groups, branching out and being present and available to help.' - Tweed president Mark Zekulin
The store, called "Better," has logos painted on the walls in hip, cursive fonts, accessories and swag laid out on chunky modern wooden shelves and messaging in a stark turquoise.
There's information to flip through on an iPad, and a graphic on the wall outlining the company's theory on "terpography" — a way to describe the scents inherent in each strain.
If you're not getting the urban, upscale, academic, hipster vibe, just wait til you hear some of the company's decidedly non-head-shop names for its medical marijuana strains:
- Bogart (street name: OG Kush)
- Cheviot (street name: Black Widow)
- Houndstooth (street name: Super Lemon Haze)
- Herringbone (street name: AK-47)
- Princeton (street name: Ghost Train Haze)
"[Some patients] really value a setting like this, you can come in, you can talk to people, you know, see a face, you can learn how a vaporizer works, and all that," said Tweed president Mark Zekulin before he cut the ribbon. "So that's what this is about. it's about being here in the community, about engaging with local groups, branching out and being present and available to help."
The company has taken over the former MedCannAccess, which had planned to open a centre in the same location last August but couldn't get a license. The centre will offer customer support representatives who can answer questions about medical marijuana regulations, navigate the application process and, once a customer has a prescription, have Tweed mail them medical marijuana.
No marijuana will be on-site. And anyone who wants the "Yield Guide" to the company's cannabis strains must already be a registered user — the company doesn't display photos or strains to the public.
Last June, the federal government introduced the new Marijuana for Medical Purposes regulations, which means medical marijuana users have to go to licensed commercial producers, as opposed to people being licensed growers on their own.
The city has fielded numerous requests from licensed medical marijuana growers to set up in Hamilton. There were so many, in fact, that city councillors debated how to zone the new enterprises.
Tweed was set to open a similar medical support centre in Guelph Thursday, too, and one in the GTA shortly after. The company is focusing its efforts on Ontario, Sinclair said, because data shows that's where the bulk of the medical marijuana business lies.
Tweed produces medical marijuana at the old Hershey factory in Smiths Falls, and in Niagara-on-the-Lake through its sister company, Tweed Farms.
The centre is opening in city with one of the highest rates of enforcement of marijuana possession offences in the country. Statistics Canada information released this summer shows that the number of marijuana-related charges laid by Hamilton police increased 154 per cent from 2006 to 2014.