"This is the future." It s 4/20, and Toronto s third legal pot shop is officially open

This is the future. It s 4/20, and Toronto s third legal pot shop is officially open
Nova Cannabis has taken over American Apparel’s old address, and the airy space shows just how much purchasing the drug has changed since it became legal in this province. With lovely art on the wall, a large glassed deli counter filled with product from licensed producers, and sales staff toting tablets to take orders — or a large order-your-own-kiosk similar to those in McDonald’s — Nova wants to be a welcoming retail experience, according to its owner.

“It’s big and bright. We’ve got beautiful artworks, it’s just a very positive atmosphere,” said Heather Conlon, Nova’s owner. “Everyone keeps asking if it was a coincidence, that we opened on 4/20. It was a not a coincidence. I think people are more pumped than ever, to be able to come into the store now, and talk to our (sales staff), to talk to them about recommendation and talk about the product.”

This is the first 4/20 — a day that has long been used a celebration day for pot smokers — after legalization in Canada, and after much controversy over the delays and difficulties in the process, including getting retail stores up and running ; many of the 25 oncoming licensed stores in Ontario face fines and penalties if they do not open up this month.

Conlon admits Nova has some finishing touches that need to be taken care of. “Everything went pretty smoothly, it really was just the time frame. Just from finding the location, to hiring and training staff to store setup, and ordering product,” she said.

“(Permits) were a little bit (of an issue). We have a temporary sign out front, because we didn’t get the permit for the (permanent) sign, but other than that, everything else was fine.”

There have also been controversies surrounding supply, but Conlon and her store manager said they expected to be fine for launch, as they stocked up and expect a lot of curious customers, but admitted some of the week-to-week restocking may been an issue, but they were optimistic.

It was a diverse crowd of people checking out the products and getting recommendations.

“I was trying to order online, but it was getting harder and harder, so the second I saw this was available, I drove downtown to give it a check. Prices are reasonable, everything seems good,” said Massimo, 30, who was planning on picking up some flowers.

“Our hostel is only a few streets away, it’s 420,” said Anamaria Stipic, 22, in town from Vienna, Austria. “I bought Blue Dream, it’s the most popular sativa here, I think. I love it. This is the future for me. I hope in Europe it will look like this in a few years. Let’s hope so.”

As more of these stores open up, it becomes like any other retail experience, and gets judged on those type of factors.

“Finally, after 50 years of this foolishness, we’ve finally legalized marijuana. It’s great,” said Brad Ciccarelli. “I’ve been to The Hunny Pot (the first store that opened in the city). I like this better, because it’s all one floor, the other one is multiple floors. It’s the same idea, they’ve got ‘budtenders’ or whatever they call them, who pick up your stuff, so it’s pretty cool.”

One issue with retail stores is whether and how they keep track of customers. Nova checks ID at the door and at the cash, but doesn’t scan or keep a record of them. Privacy breaches involving cannabis providers are already a concern — in March, Natural Health Services, a B.C.-based operator of seven clinics for medical cannabis patients, announced a breach of their record system which exposed the health information of 34,000 patients.

In other 4/20 events in the city, there was planned celebration from 12-6 in Woodbine Park, and the 420 Comedy festival at various venues in the city.

As well, the City of Toronto has also been , with officials saying that there are 27 still running in the city, which is down from close to 90 two years ago.
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