Business owner, consultant afraid Windsor will get left out in second round of cannabis lottery
'I think it might take a little while, but down here we're patient'
A cannabis consultant in Windsor is imploring potential cannabis shop owners to look at Windsor-Essex.
Jon Liedtke, who co-hosts the Cannabis Act podcast, said while it's great that Ontario is licensing 50 more retail storefronts, the province is still behind.
"I think there's only 24 stores open right now in the province which is woefully inadequate," said Liedtke. "Alberta is licensing 10 stores on a weekly basis. We're very far behind."
According to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, there are 21 open stores in Ontario as of July 4. The closest to Windsor-Essex are three stores in the London area. Three other noted locations on AGCO's interactive map are listed as "store application made," but not yet authorized by the commission.
The second round of lottery applications has 11 stores available in the West Region, which spans Windsor to Niagara Falls.
"I think there are a lot of advantages," said Liedtke about opening a store in Windsor-Essex. "I just don't know if there's much focus on Windsor-Essex as a region. There are other municipalities that have far more people."
Liedkte, who used to own Higher Limits in Windsor, isn't interested in getting back in the cannabis retail game, but said he's "definitely looking" at what opportunities might exist in the industry.
Kat Blondin on the other hand is already a store owner — she sells cannabis accessories as the co-owner of Pretty Baked in Windsor.
"I hope it's going to diversify the economy in Windsor," said Blondin about the new licenses. "I think it might take a little while, but down here we're patient."
Blondin said Windsor's proximity to the border is probably a hindrance when it comes to encouraging a cannabis shop owner to open here.
"We're kind of far away," said Blondin. "Everything hits us last."
According to Blondin, adding cannabis sales to their retail storefront isn't on their radar right now.
"If we ever decide to go as far as a cannabis license, it's going to be a long time in the future," said Blondin, adding she hopes more stores overall will mean more changes to any stigma surrounding cannabis use.
University of Windsor law professor Bill Bogart said more access to the legal market will go a long way in confronting the illicit market.
"More people in Ontario are going to have access to legal cannabis," said Bogart. "We have something like 700 brick and mortar LCBO-owned stores in this province. Even with this new rollout we'll have less than 100 cannabis stores. We still don't have sufficient access in this province."