- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

An interesting social experiment. We published a photo on Facebook of the attractive new signage for the True North cannabis store in the former Stop 'n Cash location on 3rd Avenue East. The message with the post was “Fourth cannabis retailer in the River District. A fifth Ontario license is in progress.”

Just a straight-forward, factual comment about a new business. It could have said “Fourth pizza shop in the River District” (except we believe there are only three of those).

The response was...interesting, and certainly exposed the range of community attitudes to cannabis.cannabissign

We have counted twenty places to buy alcohol in the River District, and the same again in the rest of the city, with permanent takeout and delivery approved by the Ontario government last December.  Three of them are in properties owned by the City.

Customers for retail cannabis, like alcohol, range from 18 to 80 or more. Some like smoke, some edibles or drinks. People use it to relax, to sleep, to party, or for pain relief.

Studies have pretty well de-bunked the “gateway to harder stuff” myth. Yes, people who use other drugs may have used cannabis – just as they may have used nicotine, caffeine or alcohol – addictive drugs most accessible to young people. Trauma is most often the gateway to the strongest forms of self-medication. And that, is another story.

The cannabis stores in the River District (the other one is in the licensing process, having rented the former “Music & More by David Fromager” on 10th Street East by the bridge) won't be the only ones in town for long. Another application in process is for a 16th St. East location.

Most of these retailers have more than one store in the region – some are part of even larger chains. Their business models, capitalization, marketing and customer service will likely determine which ones are still in business five years from now – just like all retail businesses.

In the meantime, these stores will collect and pay taxes, and support a payroll.

Welcome to downtown Owen Sound, True North.






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