By Peter Ash
Local dispensaries near Ryerson University are continuing to illegally sell cannabis, despite the consequences they could face.
According to the Government of Ontario website, the province won’t issue any licences to private cannabis storefronts until April 1, 2019, making it illegal for them to sell the product in the meantime.
As of its legalization on Oct. 17, the only way to legally buy cannabis is online via the Ontario Cannabis Store. It offers multiple items, such as bongs, multi-tool kits and all sorts of strains for customers to choose from.
On its first day of business, the store nearly sold out, racking up over 100,000 orders throughout the day. As a result, delivery times were also prolonged, turning a three-day waiting period into five.
Because of the long waiting periods, students are returning to the comfort of their local dispensaries.
Allevi8, a local dispensary around the corner from Ryerson, has increased sales since legalization.
“We’ve been going to [Allevi8] for a while,” said an anonymous third-year early childhood education studies student. “[They’ve] been low-key…as long as they’re open we’re going to keep going.”
Despite knowing the risk of buying pot illegally, the student preferred to get items “faster” and preferred some of the store’s “hybrids” over the online site’s goods.
The store, which usually has a decent amount of traffic and up to six staff members working at a time, has a clean look with signs and TV monitors that show what strains are available and how much they cost.
Allevi8 staff members declined to comment on their business since, “it wouldn’t be good for us.”
First-year fashion design student Kyra Wilson said dispensaries should have every right to sell cannabis, but should be careful because their business is infringing on the government’s potential to make money.
“You can even see that with liquor licensing,” Wilson said. “I’m from [British Columbia], where there’s privatized liquor stores. But over here, there’s none of that and [the] LCBO has really cut down on certain types of alcohol and forces you to buy what they usually sell.”
Wilson, who goes to multiple dispensaries and has been smoking since she was 13-years-old, said she wouldn’t be surprised if all dispensaries were gone in the next three to five years. “I hope they don’t go away though,” she said.
“I’d rather buy my [cannabis] in-store because I get to see and look at it before I end up buying it. I can’t do that online.”
Other low-profile dispensaries near Ryerson have been worried about their future as well.
An anonymous staff member at Yellow Sign, another dispensary located steps away from campus, said other stores don’t want to be “caught up in what the government’s trying to do.”
I wasn’t shocked when I heard we had to wait until next year to get a license,” he said. “[The government’s] just been sketchy about the whole thing, and it’s making things harder for everyone.”
The dispensary, which is shack-sized, offers customers pre-rolled joints and multiple strains in numerous sizes. After legalization day, the company has also seen a rise in sales, with the staff member stating the store has “run out of stuff” throughout the week.
Because of the amount of attention other dispensaries are receiving, Yellow Sign constantly tells their customers to “keep things quiet” whenever they come and go.
“We just have to be careful, because you never know when it could all go down. Things could change, but for now, we just have to watch out.”