Toronto: Nothing in store, except cannabis enthusiasm

Toronto: Nothing in store, except cannabis enthusiasm

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Toronto, just after midnight: A depiction of a cannabis bud drops from the ceiling at a countdown party by the education group Leafly.

picture by Chris Young/The Associated Press


In Canada’s largest city, cannabis users didn’t have a legal store to line up at when midnight hit. For now, the province is only offering sales online.

Cloud 6ix, a dispensary on Spadina, was still open Wednesday morning, lights turning on as usual around 10 a.m. (ET). An employee, who declined to speak with The Globe and Mail, sat at the front desk. The minimally furnished room featured a filing cabinet with a sign asking customers to show a membership card, a few “Hotbox” booklets and a rack of t-shirts.

The High Society dispensary on Carlton Street was shuttered, with plastic bags and paper covering the furniture inside and a sign to customers posted out front. “We could not be more thankful to those who supported us and believed in what we do,” it read. It directed customers to either a mail-order service or another dispensary on Queen Street West. Through the window, their old “cash only” sign was still visible.

Peace & Love, a dispensary on Queen Street West, was also shut down. Outside, a man named Jeffrey Grady, who identified himself as a former employee, sat waiting for a friend to pick him up. “I want to give out thanks and appreciation,” he said. The shelves inside were empty, crumpled paper on top, and a clothe-less mannequin stood near the window.

Also on Queen, a pop-up from the education group Leafly tried to give cannabis enthusiasts something tangible to see on Wednesday morning. The group had appealed to producers across the country to send over their packaging, so city dwellers could take a look. Packages for brands like Liiv and Grail were stacked on a countertop, each bearing the same stark yellow warning labels. Visitors trickled into the store through the morning, asking about THC content and whether their packages were child-safe. “We know there’s a lot of noise and clutter out in the space right now,” Leafly managing director Jo Vos said. “There’s a lot of confusion.”

In an alleyway behind Friendly Stranger on Queen, people gathered around a bonfire, some smoking up, others chatting idly beside a white van turned photo-booth blazoned with the greeting “Welcome to the end of prohibition.” Groovy music wafted through the cool fall air.

Matt Crosby, a glass artist from Oshawa, Ont., sat behind a torch creating bongs by hand. “It seems like everyone is pretty stoked,” he said, pulling glass to create individual green glass leaves, later affixed together to create a product he expects will be sold for around $700. He used to create more art-based glass products, but says the demand for pipes and bongs has grown so much that it’s become more lucrative to focus there. “It’s cool to see this blend of people,” he said of the Toronto event.

Kristen Trask and Kyle Chymyck, 24 and 25, sat at a picnic table and took hits of “whatever was available.” Mr. Chymyck started going to dispensaries a year and a half ago, six months after moving to Toronto. Everything had been shut down in the area where the couple lived, Ms. Trask said. Faced with an online market, she was unhappy, saying she’d miss the face-to-face interaction of Toronto’s dispensaries. “I don’t like ordering online really. I’ll do it,” she said. “I feel like going into stores is a lot more personal.”

While brightly coloured cannabis mascots danced a shoeless reveller in a tinsel wig on the south side of in Trinity Bellwoods park, Glenn Dean sat removed from the celebration on a nearby park bench with his poodle, Nestle.

“They’re having fun. They’re young guys,” Mr. Dean said. “This is liberation. There’s been very few times that we can live and experience something as exhilarating as the liberation we have today … for some of us that have hid from authorities for 45 years, the darkness is gone.”

Plum Holtz was also removed from the hub of festivities, smoking at a picnic table closer to the centre of the park.

“I’m not that kind of gal. I just like to sit in the sun and be alone and be chill,” she explained, saying it was nice not to feel on edge or guilty about disrupting the public. “I like weed. It helps with my anxiety and it just makes me feel generally more positive throughout the day.”

Around 2 p.m., Toronto Police spokesperson Caroline de Kloet said she hadn’t been told about any notable disturbances so far for the city’s officers from Wednesday’s revelry.

“Really, the law’s the law. There’s certain things that will still be done. It’s officers’ discretion depending on the situation,” she said.

Published by The Global and Mail | written by Victoria Gibson in Toronto