Pot shops across Ontario are dealing with an influx of customers beefing up their stashes amid the COVID-19 spread, and those in Hamilton are no different.
As cannabis-loving clients stock up on pot products like they were toilet paper or hand sanitizer (should they be lucky enough to find either), clients in Hamilton clients are reported seeking out weed like never before. That has the city’s four licensed retailers feeling the effects, both good and bad.
So far, the Ontario government has allowed cannabis and liquor retailers to remain open, despite urging other businesses to shut down or completely overhaul their policies through implementing measures like take-out/pick-up/delivery-only, shorter hours and limiting store customers at a time.
Tokyo Smoke on Rymal Rd. E. and Canna Cabana on Barton St. in Hamilton, as well as Cabbage Brothers on Cootes Dr. in nearby Dundas and the newlyopened Ancaster Joint on Wilson St. W. in Ancaster are all open for business during the global pandemic — at least for now.
Ancaster Joint manager Kate MacLaggan told Global News that although the outbreak wasn’t part of the plan for the store’s inaugural month, sales are swift amid the surge to collect supplies in the face of the unknown.
“Folks sort of doing the similar stockpile that they might be doing with other essential items, we’re seeing them come and do that here,” MacLaggan said, adding that there has been an uptick on the sale of cannabis products that aren’t inhaled, such as oils and edibles. “I don’t know if they’re preparing for a worst-case scenario of not being able to inhale their cannabis, should they get sick,” she speculated.
The city’s dispensaries are all taking steps to reduce the risk of infection, such as additional cleaning and removing higher-risk features like smell jars.
Cabbage Brothers has reduced its opening hours and lowered its maximum number of in-store clients to 12 at a time, allowing staff members the option to stay home if they choose.
Tokyo Smoke has reduced store hours and limited clients to just four at a time in-store, as has Canna Cabana, which is also working to implement online ordering with in-store pickup to minimize traffic.
Although a popular measure, an epidemiologist recently criticized the option of reducing liquor and cannabis store hours, saying the resulting long lines and increased traffic could have a negative impact on social distancing efforts.
As of Friday, there were 23 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Hamilton.