Budding industry: More cannabis retail shops sprouting up in Windsor-Essex

·2 min read
Growing flowers of cannabis are shown in Moncton, N.B., on April 14. Twenty-three cannabis shops have received approval to open in Windsor-Essex. (Ron Ward/Canadian Press - image credit)
Growing flowers of cannabis are shown in Moncton, N.B., on April 14. Twenty-three cannabis shops have received approval to open in Windsor-Essex. (Ron Ward/Canadian Press - image credit)

Windsor-Essex is seeing big growth in cannabis retail, with nearly two dozen locations approved across the region — and even more seeking the green light from the province.

One of several to open recently is Cloud 29 on Cabana Road in South Windsor.

Carol Sassine, one of the owners, said the shop's license was approved early in 2020, and they were ready to open by August but had to wait until January for final approval. The shop opened last month.

It was "basically an entire year from receiving license to actually getting the doors open," she said on CBC Radio's Windsor Morning on Tuesday.

Amid the pandemic, there were challenges in getting the business off the ground and finding staff. Government authorization for cannabis shops had slowed down, she said.

"I think they kind of got that under control, and that's why you're seeing so many stores pop up so quickly," she said.

While cannabis became legal in 2018 and retail locations started opening up the following year in Ontario, Windsor was not included in the first lottery for stores. The city's first cannabis shop opened downtown just a year ago.

More shops in the pipe

But locally, the industry appears to be making up for lost time. As of March 26, there were 23 retail stores in Windsor-Essex approved and another 26 seeking approval from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which regulates the industry.

Going in to the venture, Sassine said she and her business partners knew the market would be extremely competitive.

"Our mindset was that, how are we going to make sure that we can set ourselves apart from the many other places that are going to open up," she said.

And cannabis retail could soon be popping up in another municipality in Windsor-Essex — LaSalle.

After initially opting out of cannabis stores, the town passed a motion last week to reverse course.

Tecumseh is the only municipality in Windsor-Essex that has not permitted cannabis retail.