As illegal cannabis dispensaries are raided across Ontario, it seems like those shops could potentially be replaced by Tweed, a legal, privately owned cannabis dispensary, which is set to open in a south London plaza in April.
The Canopy Growth Corporation, Tweed’s parent company and the world’s largest cannabis corporation, has entered a pending deal with Quebec retail behemoth and North America’s largest convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. to support a privately owned cannabis storefront in the White Oaks area. The proposed storefront will be located at 1025 Wellington Rd. and is pending approval of its application by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.
“There aren’t any current retail shops in Ontario, and it will be really great to offer adult consumers an opportunity to walk into a store and have a conversation face-to-face with educated staff,” says Shega Youngson, senior manager of events and community engagement at Canopy Growth.
The AGCO, the provincial agency set with the task of regulating the privately run stores, held a lottery mid-December to choose the entities that can apply for one of the first 25 retail licences.
According to Youngson, Canopy Growth and Couche-Tard have entered into a trademark licence agreement with one of those lottery winners (who remains unnamed) and are set to open the London storefront under Canopy’s Tweed brand.
As of now, the only place to buy legal cannabis products in Ontario is through the Ontario Cannabis Store, a government-run website. A number of brick-and-mortar cannabis storefronts run by the lottery winners are set to open on April 1 across Ontario.
“It’s always great when the community is open to a new industry. Because of that overwhelming support, it was decided that London would be a great place to open a retail shop,” says Youngson, citing London city council's December vote to allow private cannabis stores to operate in the Forest City.
The Ontario government did not allow growers like Tweed to enter into the lottery in an attempt to make sure small businesses had a fair chance to run retail cannabis stores; however, this hasn’t stopped lottery winners from partnering with large corporations to provide branding and help in creating the storefront.
As a well-established brand in the Canadian cannabis industry, Tweed already operates in provinces that have rolled out privately owned cannabis shops, including Newfoundland, Manitoba and, most recently, Saskatchewan.
In a joint release sent out mid-February, Canopy Growth and Couche-Tard stated that the storefront will carry softgels, oils and dried flower products, along with a selection of accessories.
“The lottery winner can leverage our brand licence, and we’re here to support them, but they make decisions around what they sell in the shop, and for us, it’s just supporting them,” says Youngson.
Councillor Elizabeth Peloza, whose Ward 12 area will be in the vicinity of the proposed storefront, has encouraged her constituents to raise concerns and objections they may have with the AGCO or in person at a town hall meeting tomorrow. A 15-day public consultation period will run until Thursday.
The proposed London Tweed store comes nine days after Central Cannabis sought authorization from the AGCO for London’s first cannabis retail store in London’s west-end at 666 Wonderland Rd. at the former Oarhouse restaurant, making London a hot spot for privately owned cannabis retailers.