First legal pot shop on Hamilton Mountain opens at Ancaster Joint

News Feb 24, 2020 by Matthew Van Dongen The Hamilton Spectator

The first legal cannabis store on the Mountain opened over the weekend — but it won't be alone up there for long.

The family-run Ancaster Joint opened Saturday morning at Duff's Corners on Wilson St. W. It narrowly beat out a Tokyo Smoke franchise slated to open next week on Rymal Road East in Upper Stoney Creek.

Eleonora Plata, who fronted the family bid for a licence to sell cannabis, cheered alongside husband Dennis and kids Jessica and Robert when the first customers wandered into the former Mezza Cafe.

"This is our family project ... We've always talked about starting a family business together and now, this is it," she said.

Learning about the fledgling retail cannabis industry in Ontario presented a "big learning curve," she said, but noted her family brings helpful skills to the table — including backgrounds in accounting and supply management.

Plata admitted feeling nervous about throwing her name into a licence lottery process that attracted thousands of would-be store owners — especially given the well-publicized challenges with cannabis supply and delayed openings that confronted the first legal retail stores last year.

"But you know what? I won the (licence) lottery on my birthday," she said. "At that point, we thought, maybe this was just meant to be."

The family business almost didn't get the chance to even enter the lottery. City council hotly debated whether to allow any legal pot shops in Hamilton — with an 8-8 tie vote a year ago narrowly clearing the way for legal retail cannabis in town.

The two new Mountain stores will double the number of provincially licensed pot shops in the city that opened last year during the problem-plagued rollout of legal cannabis outlets.

Hello Cannabis and Canna Cabana have been selling pot since last April, but both missed the original April 1 opening deadline and suffered through a provincewide cannabis supply shortage last year.

Ancaster Joint is the start of a new wave of applicants that won the chance to sell cannabis legally in Ontario's most recent licence lottery Aug. 20.

If all of the stores listed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario as seeking retail authorizations are successful, Hamilton will shortly host at least seven pot shops.

They'll compete for business with up to five cannabis stores in neighbouring Burlington, three of which already have permission to sell.

That's still a fraction of the estimated 80 illegal pot shops that were thriving in Hamilton before legalization, though. The popularity of the black market shops earned Hamilton the dubious moniker of "cannabis capital" of Ontario.

It also spurred Premier Doug Ford to take a pot shot at the city, calling on local officials and police to do more to crack down on his "biggest frustration."

mvandongen@thespec.com

905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec

mvandongen@thespec.com

905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec

First legal pot shop on Hamilton Mountain opens at Ancaster Joint

The Ancaster site won’t be alone on the Mountain for long — another cannabis outlet is targeting Monday to open. That would bring the number of legal pot shops in the city to four.

News Feb 24, 2020 by Matthew Van Dongen The Hamilton Spectator

The first legal cannabis store on the Mountain opened over the weekend — but it won't be alone up there for long.

The family-run Ancaster Joint opened Saturday morning at Duff's Corners on Wilson St. W. It narrowly beat out a Tokyo Smoke franchise slated to open next week on Rymal Road East in Upper Stoney Creek.

Eleonora Plata, who fronted the family bid for a licence to sell cannabis, cheered alongside husband Dennis and kids Jessica and Robert when the first customers wandered into the former Mezza Cafe.

"This is our family project ... We've always talked about starting a family business together and now, this is it," she said.

Learning about the fledgling retail cannabis industry in Ontario presented a "big learning curve," she said, but noted her family brings helpful skills to the table — including backgrounds in accounting and supply management.

Plata admitted feeling nervous about throwing her name into a licence lottery process that attracted thousands of would-be store owners — especially given the well-publicized challenges with cannabis supply and delayed openings that confronted the first legal retail stores last year.

"But you know what? I won the (licence) lottery on my birthday," she said. "At that point, we thought, maybe this was just meant to be."

The family business almost didn't get the chance to even enter the lottery. City council hotly debated whether to allow any legal pot shops in Hamilton — with an 8-8 tie vote a year ago narrowly clearing the way for legal retail cannabis in town.

The two new Mountain stores will double the number of provincially licensed pot shops in the city that opened last year during the problem-plagued rollout of legal cannabis outlets.

Hello Cannabis and Canna Cabana have been selling pot since last April, but both missed the original April 1 opening deadline and suffered through a provincewide cannabis supply shortage last year.

Ancaster Joint is the start of a new wave of applicants that won the chance to sell cannabis legally in Ontario's most recent licence lottery Aug. 20.

If all of the stores listed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario as seeking retail authorizations are successful, Hamilton will shortly host at least seven pot shops.

They'll compete for business with up to five cannabis stores in neighbouring Burlington, three of which already have permission to sell.

That's still a fraction of the estimated 80 illegal pot shops that were thriving in Hamilton before legalization, though. The popularity of the black market shops earned Hamilton the dubious moniker of "cannabis capital" of Ontario.

It also spurred Premier Doug Ford to take a pot shot at the city, calling on local officials and police to do more to crack down on his "biggest frustration."

mvandongen@thespec.com

905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec

mvandongen@thespec.com

905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec

First legal pot shop on Hamilton Mountain opens at Ancaster Joint

The Ancaster site won’t be alone on the Mountain for long — another cannabis outlet is targeting Monday to open. That would bring the number of legal pot shops in the city to four.

News Feb 24, 2020 by Matthew Van Dongen The Hamilton Spectator

The first legal cannabis store on the Mountain opened over the weekend — but it won't be alone up there for long.

The family-run Ancaster Joint opened Saturday morning at Duff's Corners on Wilson St. W. It narrowly beat out a Tokyo Smoke franchise slated to open next week on Rymal Road East in Upper Stoney Creek.

Eleonora Plata, who fronted the family bid for a licence to sell cannabis, cheered alongside husband Dennis and kids Jessica and Robert when the first customers wandered into the former Mezza Cafe.

"This is our family project ... We've always talked about starting a family business together and now, this is it," she said.

Learning about the fledgling retail cannabis industry in Ontario presented a "big learning curve," she said, but noted her family brings helpful skills to the table — including backgrounds in accounting and supply management.

Plata admitted feeling nervous about throwing her name into a licence lottery process that attracted thousands of would-be store owners — especially given the well-publicized challenges with cannabis supply and delayed openings that confronted the first legal retail stores last year.

"But you know what? I won the (licence) lottery on my birthday," she said. "At that point, we thought, maybe this was just meant to be."

The family business almost didn't get the chance to even enter the lottery. City council hotly debated whether to allow any legal pot shops in Hamilton — with an 8-8 tie vote a year ago narrowly clearing the way for legal retail cannabis in town.

The two new Mountain stores will double the number of provincially licensed pot shops in the city that opened last year during the problem-plagued rollout of legal cannabis outlets.

Hello Cannabis and Canna Cabana have been selling pot since last April, but both missed the original April 1 opening deadline and suffered through a provincewide cannabis supply shortage last year.

Ancaster Joint is the start of a new wave of applicants that won the chance to sell cannabis legally in Ontario's most recent licence lottery Aug. 20.

If all of the stores listed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario as seeking retail authorizations are successful, Hamilton will shortly host at least seven pot shops.

They'll compete for business with up to five cannabis stores in neighbouring Burlington, three of which already have permission to sell.

That's still a fraction of the estimated 80 illegal pot shops that were thriving in Hamilton before legalization, though. The popularity of the black market shops earned Hamilton the dubious moniker of "cannabis capital" of Ontario.

It also spurred Premier Doug Ford to take a pot shot at the city, calling on local officials and police to do more to crack down on his "biggest frustration."

mvandongen@thespec.com

905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec

mvandongen@thespec.com

905-526-3241 | @Mattatthespec