Legal Montreal-area pot store lures Ottawa-Gatineau residents
Closest legal cannabis store to the capital region is in Mirabel, Que., about 150 km east of downtown Ottawa
On the first day of legalization, National Capital Region capital region residents had to make a long trek to get their cannabis at a legal outlet.
The closest store selling legal cannabis is in Mirabel, Que. — about 150 km east of downtown Ottawa and Gatineau.
Adam Salvatore, who lives near Hawkesbury, Ont., about 110 km east of Ottawa, said he travelled for more than an hour and waited in line for more than three hours to buy legal pot.
Ève Labrecque, who travelled to Mirabel from her home in western Quebec's Outaouais region, likewise wanted to be part of the buzz.
"I came here with my best friend," she said.
"We wanted to be there for the moment and be there for the first day."
So far there are no provincially operated legal stores open in Gatineau and the Outaouais region. One is scheduled to open in Gatineau in 2019, along with two in the Outaouais that same year.
In Ontario, private stores that get licences from the province wont be opening until next spring.
Ontario residents can order online from the provincially operated Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) but delivery takes one to three business days, according to the OCS website.
Salvatore said he hopes he doesn't have to wait too long until a store opens closer to home.
"I hope they open stores faster. It's a long drive to come for this," he said.
While the opening of physical stores in Ontario was delayed when the new provincial government introduced changes to its regime, no stores in Gatineau opened due to location issues.
The Société Québécoise du Cannabis (SQDC) — the government body responsible for cannabis distribution in Quebec — planned to open a store in the region in the first phase of legalization, but negotiating a lease took longer than expected, leaving Gatineau with no physical store.
SQDC said they expect to have a lease signed by Nov. 1.
Labrecque said she is eager to have a store open in the area.
"I'll be happy that the service is available [at home]."
With files from Roxane Léouzon