By KASY PERTAB
There’s a cloud in the air, and it’s not from the chilly autumn fog. Since the legalization of recreational marijuana in Canada, the people of Toronto can’t stop raving about it.
Premier Doug Ford’s government passed legislation on the use and sale of marijuana on Oct. 17. However, citizens are only able to purchase it online through the Ontario Cannabis Store for now. As for shops, stores will be able to sell pot as of April 2019.
Some local shop owners are eager to join the sale. Sarah Hatch, owner of the Peace Pipe Shop on Queen Street East just east of Wineva Avenue, is one of them. The accessory retailer offers a variety of products that range from glass bongs and pipes, to vapourizers and scented incense.
Hatch explained that the legalization provides an advantage for a small chain retailer since they would now be able to offer cannabis and expand throughout the province. However, she added that there will also be competition.
“The disadvantage is now not only do we have to compete with the government on an accessory level, which by the way they have already undercut us on pricing through their website substantially, but we’re up against big corporations, ironically the same corporations that only a few years ago looked down on us as if we were just all seedy business owners,” Hatch said.
Most users like Rebecca Loughran are content with the decision. Loughran is a returning customer at the Peace Pipe Shop and she prefers a Sativa highbred in an oil base smoked through a vape. Since she has been smoking for more than 15 years, she uses the cannabis specifically for her anxiety and concentration.
Sativa is said to provide a more energizing experience, which is the opposite of the Indica strains.
According to a page on the Ontario Cannabis Store online site, “there are hundreds of strains of plants-each bred for specific characteristics and often intended to produce specific effects for consumers.” Loughran also spoke of the importance of choosing the right type of marijuana.
“I think it’ll be lesser of a headache for people who want to try it, and it’s better now because you can find the strains—whether you like Indica or Sativa, you can find what you need. This way you’re not buying it off the streets where it could be laced with chemicals,” she said.
Others have said that the legalization was long awaited, but that there are cautions to it. Paul Shakespeare, a resident of the Beach, added that the effects of cannabis can now be tested.
“I’ve been in favour of it for a long time because of all the generations of people who have been criminalized for minor offences, and all the money spent on trying to prevent the use,” Shakespeare said.
“I see a lot of stuff where you get people making all kinds of romantic claims about what it can do and there’s no way really to prove it because if it’s illegal, you can’t test it.”
Another Beach resident, Beth Clune, expressed her concern for cannabis users.
“I’m hoping there are appropriate safeguards to keep it out of the hands of young people and drivers. Being safe is the most important thing to me,” Clune said.
Cities have until Jan. 22 of 2019 to decide if they want to ban privately-run cannabis stores from opening until shops become legal. Until then, legal sales are strictly online.