By Daniel McIntosh
Two new cannabis stores—Tokyo Smoke and Canna Cabana Toronto—are opening steps away from Ryerson University’s campus in April and May, respectively.
Tokyo Smoke will open at 333 Yonge St., across from the Student Learning Centre (SLC). The storefront, formerly an HMV, will be the sixth franchise location in Toronto, but the first in the city to sell cannabis products. The store will be owned and operated by a licensee under the Tokyo Smoke name.
Josh Lyon, the vice president of marketing for Tokyo Smoke, said the store is hoping to open immediately after the public consultation period, on April 2. “We’re hyperconscious of the excitement,” said Lyon.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) issued a lottery to determine the 25 entities that could apply to open stores in January. According to the AGCO website, a retail operator license has not yet been issued to Tokyo Smoke applicant Colin Campbell.
“We know the lottery winner and his team are making sure they do this right,” Lyon said.
As for the proximity to Ryerson, Lyon said being surrounded by nearby schools and students is incidental.
“When you look at Yonge-Dundas Square and the old HMV location, that is an iconic space. It’s the centre of the city,” said Lyon. “So the ability to build a shop in the old space to bring that vibrancy back, I think that was the thing.”
Canna Cabana Toronto, is scheduled to open at 435 Yonge St., near College Park. Their public consultation period ends April 9.
Nick Kuzyk is the chief strategy officer at High Tide, the parent company behind Canna Cabana.
He said the Yonge St. location will not be opening in April and a more realistic opening date would be in May.
“[Canna Cabana is] situated in Lethbridge, Calgary and Edmonton, which are areas with post-secondary institutions and we’ve had good success there interacting with the community,” he said.
According to their public relations office, Ryerson has no comment on the new stores. Students, however, have lots to say.
“I don’t think it’s a problem,” said Kevin Boamah, a third-year business management student. “I smoke, so for me it’s a good thing I guess. I can just come over here and get some. I don’t usually go to dispensaries because they’re all so far from campus.”
Following the October 2018 legalization of recreational marijuana, Ryerson determined that students would be able to smoke on campus, as long as they’re at least nine metres away from entrances and exits.
However, Ryerson does not have a cannabis-specific policy.
Victoria Perricciolo, a first-year criminology student, said a 6ixBuzz post informed her of Tokyo Smoke’s presence.
She said that on-campus smoking habits haven’t changed with legalization. “In front of the SLC and other places on campus have really remained the same, but this will really increase it.”
Having a dispensary so close to campus “feels cool,” according to Marjorie Terrado, a fourth-year fashion communications student. “I think we’re finally moving toward something that should have been done a really long time ago because people villainize it a lot but it’s really not as bad as they think it is.”
According to Lyon, Tokyo Smoke is expected to be similar to their Manitoba locations offering in store sessions and educational events ranging from “cannabis 101” to methods of consumption.
Lyon said classes help people understand how they can integrate cannabis into their lives.