KINGSVILLE — Kingsville residents will soon have an abundance of choice when it comes to buying cannabis and cannabis-related products locally.
The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has granted licences to two companies looking to locate stores in town.
High Tea Kingsville will operate at 1 Main St. W., while Tony’s Joint, which also operates a location on Talbot Street in Essex, will set up shop at 410 Main St. E., near the Freshco grocery store.
Tony Cervini, owner of Tony’s Joint, said he surveyed the growth of cannabis stores in Windsor, Amherstburg and elsewhere in Essex County and felt Kingsville was the perfect place to open his second outlet.
“It’s always been on my mind to open up in Kingsville,” Cervini said. “I love how beautiful the town is, the restaurants downtown, the whole dining, entertainment atmosphere. It’s a great place to set up a business.”
The store will sell sativa, indica and hybrid strains of cannabis, concentrates, CBD oil, edibles, chewables and pre-rolls.
He said his new location is close to high-traffic businesses like the grocery store, Dollarama, Shoppers Drug Mart and McDonalds, which will mesh well with the cannabis store’s 11 p.m. closing time.
Cervini said he hopes to have the store open in three months.
“It’s in keeping with the times and what we’ve seeing since the legalization of cannabis,” Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos said of the two future openings. “There will be greater access to those who need it for medicinal purposes and being able to access it locally is certainly a plus rather than ordering online.”
The federal government legalized the sale of cannabis for recreational use in 2018, but it was individual provinces which drafted regulations dealing with store locations and who could buy pot.
Prior to its rollout of pot licences in 2019, the province told Ontario towns and cities to decide whether they wanted cannabis stores in their municipalities.
Santos said the town had a least two public meetings to gauge support for the stores. He said there was wide agreement on the possible benefits and the town decided it would allow cannabis stores to locate in the municipality.
He said the main criteria the stores must obey is the 150-metre setback from schools and daycares. Like alcohol, pot can’t be sold to anyone under the age of 19. In 2019, Ontario, using a lottery system, initially granted 25 retail licences, most in the Toronto area.
That system was scrapped and the province now takes applications.
In a Dec. 8 news release, the AGCO said there were 269 authorized cannabis retail stores in the province. It said there were 1,100 active licence applications still to be processed.
Cervini, 22, said one the one primary goals of any pot shop should be education.
“There’s a lot of customers who come in who don’t know too much about cannabis. They know a little bit but don’t really know the details so we try to educate our customers on what’s the best experience for them.”
One of Cervini’s backers is his father, John Cervini, a founding member of Leamington-based Aphria, an international producer and distributor of medicinal and recreational cannabis.
“I’ve been in the cannabis industry since 2018; I’ve seen everything from growing the plants in the factory to the final product going out the door. I’ve been around it a long time and I love the fact (cannabis) actually helps people,” Cervini said.
The Observer tried to contact High Tea, which is based in Brampton, but was unsuccessful.
According to its website, High Tea Cannabis Corp. (High Tea), is a newly established cannabis retailer in Ontario, which is looking to open a flagship store in an unnamed location sometime this month.
Backed by Bluevale Capital, a private equity group, High Tea hopes to open more than 20 locations in Ontario over the next 12 to 18 months.Its plans also call for expansion into the United States.