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One year of retail cannabis: As pot stores multiply, Windsor weed lovers buy it by the tonne

Windsor cannabis consumers have purchased close to two tonnes of government-approved weed in the 12 months since J. Supply Co. became the city’s first legal brick-and-mortar pot shop on March 28, 2020.

“We’ve had a great first year — when we first opened, people were thanking us like crazy,” said J. Supply general manager Haley Colenutt. A year later, she said she still meets customers expressing gratitude for having a physical store where they can make legal purchases.

One year of retail cannabis: As pot stores multiply, Windsor weed lovers buy it by the tonne

“Big-time. A lot of people tell us, ‘For years, I just smoked what I was handed (on the black market).’ This has really opened up doors,” she said. The interior of the downtown business is modern and stylish with friendly, knowledgeable and attentive ‘budtenders’ who roam the floor to assist and educate shoppers.

Windsor was one of the last Ontario cities to get a pot shop, nearly a year and a half after Canada legalized recreational marijuana for adults in October 2018 and the province responded with caution. But the local retail pot sector appears to be making up for lost time and is growing like weeds, and so too is the volume of legal cannabis purchased.

The pace of city pot shop approvals by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has accelerated, with the Windsor number doubling to 18 retail businesses just since the beginning of 2021. And that figure could soon more than double again with 20 additional applications currently under review.

Sessions Lakeshore budtender Alyssa Barkhouse is shown at the cannabis store on Wednesday, March 24, 2021.Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

It’s made for a lot of legal pot consumption locally.

According to the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) — the provincial agency that sells its own online product and supplies the entire private sector — nearly 1.7 million grams of cannabis for adult use was sold in Windsor in the 11 months from April 1, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021, with retail sales ringing in at almost $15 million.

By the time J. Supply hosts its anniversary celebration Sunday, nearly two tonnes of legal cannabis will have been sold in Windsor over the previous 12 months.

“This demonstrates that there is a strong market for legal, responsibly sold cannabis in the Windsor area,” said Daffyd Roderick, OCS senior director of communications and social responsibility.

A big factor in the Trudeau government’s decision to make Canada the second country in the world to legalize pot (after Uruguay) was tackling the black market and the criminality associated with that drug trade. According to its most recent quarterly report covering the period ending December 2020, the OCS estimates the legal market currently makes up about 40 per cent of all pot sales in the province.

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