Canada: Opening of the first private cannabis stores in Ontario



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The first private marijuana stores opened Monday in Ontario, boosting consumer sentiment in Canada's most populous province, nearly six months after the drug's legalization for recreational purposes.

Since legalization, on Oct. 17, Ontarians have only been able to get marijuana by ordering the government distribution company online.

In Toronto, dozens of people camped all night in front of the only store to open. In Ottawa, a buyer said he waited two hours in the cold to be the first customer of the Fire and Flower store.

"This is the beginning of retail in Ontario, Canada's largest market, so we have high hopes in our store," Trevor Fencott, director of Fire and Flower, told AFP.

"We expect good sales today," he added, while customers stocked their store in downtown Ottawa.

In October, Canada became the second largest country in the world to legalize possession and use of recreational cannabis five years after Uruguay.

In recent months, a network of dedicated locations and points of sale flourished in the country, and each of the ten provinces has implemented its distribution structure.

In Quebec, legalization is so popular that government stores, invaded by consumers, are expected to close several days a week due to insufficient supply.

In Ontario, the sale of recreational marijuana was entrusted to the private sector and a lottery was held in December to grant operating licenses.

Thousands of businessmen have expressed interest in opening a store in this province of 14 million people, but only 25 licenses were issued by the province. A dozen stores opened on Monday, a day marked by the provincial government for the beginning of retail.

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