Weedora, an unlicensed cannabis store in Toronto, hands out $200k in vouchers for free weed

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Several unlicensed cannabis dispensaries in Toronto opened for business this weekend in defiance of the city’s efforts to keep them shuttered.

Weedora, an illicit pot business owned by Chris James, even claimed to distribute $200,000 in $100 vouchers for free cannabis. The owner claims he made the move in protest and to bring attention to the difficulties he and other cannabis small businesses are facing under current regulations.

James would like to get a provincial licence for a cannabis delivery service, which is currently prohibited, but harbours concerns that by the time such a business could be licenced, it could be too late for him.

“The government should allow delivery services because people would prefer to have it delivered to their homes,” James, who also owns Cannabis & Coffee Inc., told CBC News.

“A dispensary is not the preferred model for the actual customer. The actual preferred model is a delivery service. People would rather have it delivered in 30 minutes or less like pizza.”

James says the Ford government’s handling of cannabis retail, which involved limiting the initial number of retail licences issued to 25 last December after repealing the system set up by previous premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals, has made him lose money and set him up for failure.

“The government should also allow the craft market to enter the system,” Chris James, owner of Weedora, told CBC News.

Prior to legalization coming into effect, the Conservatives had originally suggested that all private cannabis retailers could apply for a licence to open and run a dispensary. But due to supply shortages, the 25-licence limit was put into place last December. Although more stores are on the verge of receiving licences, critics say there are too few stores and that the lottery system used to select licensees is faulty.

“The government should also allow the craft market to enter the system,” James told CBC News. “We keep hearing about a supply shortage [and] that’s why there are no more stores being opened. If there’s a supply shortage, there are thousands of growers that the government authorized to be medical growers that should be allowed to grow for recreational people as well.”

Toronto’s most stubborn illicit dispensary, CAFE, was also open. The chain was closed and re-opened so many times, via legal loopholes and straight-up defiance,  that legislators were forced to make changes to local laws and authorities blocked store entrances with giant cement blocks.

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