Sudbury

Opening delayed for 'Highlife,' Sudbury's first cannabis store

Sudburians will be waiting a little bit longer to step inside northern Ontario's first brick and mortar cannabis store. Employees have been preparing for the opening of Highlife on Marcus Drive. However, delays have pushed the April 1st opening back.

Grinberg is hopeful that Highlife will open their doors on April 5

Eddie Grinberg says the store is ready to open as soon as they receive the licence. (Jamie-Lee McKenzie/CBC)

Sudburians will be waiting a little bit longer to step inside northern Ontario's first brick and mortar cannabis store.

Employees have been preparing for the opening of Highlife on Marcus Drive. However, delays have pushed the planned April 1 opening back.

"We're going through the checks that the AGCO [Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario] is doing before we're able to order the product from OCS [Ontario Cannabis Store] and at this point it's being delayed so we're not going to be able to open on April 1st cause we won't have the inventory," said Eddie Grinberg, a spokesperson for Highlife.

Currently there are 25 stores waiting to open in the province, but the rigorous process of getting a Retail Operator Licence (ROL) and a Retail Store Authorization (RSA) through the AGCO is causing some stores to push back their opening.

Eddie Grinberg is the spokesperson for Highlife. (Jamie-Lee McKenzie/CBC)

Grinberg says he was planning and prepared for Highlife to be open on April 1, but without a licence the doors will remain closed.  

He says the AGCO is doing their due diligence to ensure that the store is completely legal and safe before it opens, which includes criminal record checks. 

"If applicants have not yet been issued a ROL or RSA it is not because of delays in processing their applications. It is due to the diligence required in assessing the eligibility of applicants, partners, interested parties and their stores. The AGCO has dedicated teams working closely with each applicant," said Raymond Kahnert, a senior advisor with the AGCO.

He says they will only licence operators and authorize stores once they are satisfied that all legal and regulatory requirements have been met.

"It's a thorough process, a careful process because there is a need to ensure the buying public this particular operator, whoever it may be is going to be acting with honesty and integrity and of course abiding by all the rules and all the legislation governing the retail selling of recreational cannabis."

Kahnert says he's not sure how many stores in the province will be affected by the delays, but he knows that not all 25 stores will be open on April 1.

Grinberg says he's hopeful that they will go through all AGCO's checks and he'll be able to open Highlife's doors to the public on April 5.

"Theoretically we should be able to have everything by the end of this week, which will allow us to get the operator licence. Once we have the operator licence we're able to order the material from OCS and then we'll be able to open," he said.

There's just a few more things to finish preparing before the opening of the store, says spokesperson Eddie Grinberg (Jamie-Lee McKenzie/CBC)

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