30 pot shops operating in Windsor, more to come

Warning message

The subscription service is currently unavailable. Please try again later.
Twitter icon
cannabis buds

Experts, shop owners, police say the influx of cannabis shops in Windsor is helping weaken the black market.

Windsor is seeing a steady rise in the number of cannabis stores opening up in the city — with sometimes two, three or four stores located within a couple hundred metres of each other.

The first legal weed shop, J Supply Co., opened in Windsor about 18 months ago. Since then, the number has ballooned to thirty — with more eleven more awaiting approval.

J Supply general manager Haley Colenutt said they have to rely on branding to set themselves apart from competitors.

"There is a lot of saturation in the market. We've seen it. Lots of people are still expanding, building more and more stores.

"But we're really limited. There's a lot of regulations around marketing to differentiate ourselves from the other stores where it's a little bit limited, how we can do that."


Windsor's weed shops are learning to innovate. There are a variety of products available, including THC distillate vape pens. (Aastha Shetty/CBC News)

Andy Palalas is the chief revenue officer of High Tide. The company is behind several legal weed brands across the country, including Canna Cabana on Walker Road.

Palalas agreed on the need for differentiation.

"Cannabis consumers will be the ones who decide. Will every business succeed? Just like in every industry — no. But in cannabis, I do think there are opportunities for cannabis retailers to create experiences that are different from their neighbours and their competitors."

Colenutt said there are ways they can compete with the black market.

"Access to better delivery, consistent delivery is a really big point in deterring the black market," she said.

"Once they try the product, they are blown away by the quality compared to what they've gotten [in the black market]. We definitely had some people switch over permanently."

Legal shops are helping push out illegal storefronts

The Windsor Police Service credits legal shops for helping push out illicit storefronts.

Const. Aaron Chambers is a part of a police intelligence unit that cracks down on illegal cannabis stores in the city.

He said his team has managed to shut down approximately 11 unlicensed stores and they've prevented another two from reopening.

"We've seen that there was certain places where these illicit stores started. But now, once you get two or three legal stores in that area, they [illegal shops] just close up shop and and have gone away."


There are a number of products up for offer at Windsor's cannabis shops, including pre-rolled joints. (Aastha Shetty/CBC News)

Jay Rosenthal, co-founder of Business of Cannabis, said this is not a phenomenon unique to Windsor. Statistics from older markets like Colorado and Oregon show having a large number of legal pot shops has weakened the black market.

"If one of the policy goals is to get people transition from the legacy market to the legal market, the density of legal stores really matters.

"And I think we will see that in Windsor...more stores equals more people entering the legal market, which is one of the policy goals."

Clustering concerns

In Windsor, there are already a few clusters of stores forming, with two or three stores located on the same street, just a few minutes walking distance from each other.

The biggest cluster is located on Tecumseh Road at Lauzon Parkway. There are four separate pot shops that are operating almost shoulder-to-shoulder.


These four weed shops -- Fire & Flower Cannabis Co, URBNBUD, One Plane Cannabis Dispensary and ShinyBud, are all located within 200-400 meters of each other. (CBC NEWS)

"I think it's just business," said Rosenthal.

"I think if you take out the word 'legal cannabis stores' and enter 'bars, restaurants, coffee shops, convenience stores' — take your pick, there is lots of density of lots of different kinds of retail in lots of different places."

He adds that it is possible for multiple cannabis shops to co-exist side by side — but it can be challenging for them to be unique.

"They all have the same menu that they are drawing from, the Ontario Cannabis Stores. The products they have are all from the same list. One of the things I would love to see the OCS and Ontario do... is to allow retailers to work directly with legal growers and manufacturers."


Weed expert Jay Rosenthal

Weed expert Jay Rosenthal says clustering is nothing to be concerned about. He says think of pot like any other retail store. 0:53

Palash Tiwari is the corporate manager of The WE Store, a cannabis retailer with a majority of its locations based in Windsor. One of the shops is located on Tecumseh Road, just about a kilometre away from the four-store cluster in the Forest Glade neighborhood.

Those four stores are placed within 200 to 400 meters of each other.

"It is too close," Palash said.

"There should be some distance requirements with an existing store... it should be at least 500 metres. If two people open stores right in front of each other, what do you think is going to happen?"

Currently only one restriction exists for weed stores. They need to be 150 metres away from schools. Meanwhile, neither the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario nor the city of Windsor has plans to add any additional restrictions.

e-mail icon Facebook icon Twitter icon LinkedIn icon Reddit icon
Rate this article: 
Article category: 
Regional Marijuana News: