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On eve of province-wide cannabis shop closures, patrons flock to One Plant

Barrie’s only retail cannabis shop prepares to close its doors Saturday night after province deems stores non-essential in wake of COVID-19
2020-04-04 OnePlant JO-001
The line-up of patrons waiting to stock up on cannabis on Saturday stretched from One Plant on Essa Road in Barrie to the on-ramp of Highway 400. Customers flocked to the store due to the news that cannabis retail stores are now deemed non-essential businesses and would be closing as of Saturday night. Jessica Owen/BarrieToday

They only opened a short three months ago, but tonight as of 11:59 p.m., One Plant will close its doors.

Barrie's only provincially licensed marijuana retailer will be closing temporarily due to the provincial government’s announcement on Friday that it would be modifying its list of essential businesses in light of COVID-19 concerns, and cannabis retailers were not included on the updated list.

So on Saturday, hundreds of cannabis fans flocked to the store to stock up before it was too late.

“Normally, we know what’s coming,” said One Plant store manager Ryan Grenville. “Nobody saw this coming.”

One Plant, which is located in the plaza at 231 Essa Rd., is Barrie's first government-approved cannabis retailer. It initially opened for business on Jan. 16.

In mid-March, the Essa Road shop closed amid concerns one of its employees had potentially been in contact with someone who had contracted COVID-19, but reopened on March 23 with new policies in place to protect patrons.

Grenville said that after that scare, it took about four or five days for the store to ramp up again business-wise but that otherwise, the store has been consistently busy.

“It’s been an incredible three months. The City of Barrie has been so welcoming to us and people have been incredible,” he said.

Grenville said cannabis is a fairly in-demand item, so he’s not that nervous about what the shut-down will do to the business in the long-run.

“I think people will always prefer coming in to a store and talking to somebody rather than ordering online,” he said. “I want people to have access to legal and safe recreational cannabis.”

Grenville said he has been letting patrons know that cannabis is still available via the Ontario Cannabis Store website if they run out and need more before the stores re-open.

“They can always order online and go to a post office to pick it up, which is still a good and safe option rather than turning to the black market,” he said.

Grenville said when he first heard the announcement on Friday he did feel disappointed in the government’s decision.

“I jumped into this career head-first about three months ago and I love what I do,” he said. “It’s been the best industry I’ve worked in in my career so far. The people are wonderful and love what we’re doing. I was very disappointed.”

However, Grenville thinks the government does have good intentions with the closures.

“I understand where they’re coming from, from a social responsibility standpoint. I can get behind that, but it does feel like a bit of a double standard. I’m not going to harbour anger or resentment over it though,” said Grenville.

Emily Lemieux waited to make a purchase at the store on Saturday afternoon in a line-up that stretched from the doors of the shop down Essa Road, nearly reaching the Highway 400 on-ramp.

“I don’t think (closing the stores) is a good idea. I think it will make a lot of people go a little crazy and it means bigger crowds flock to the stores,” said Lemieux. “We’re stuck at home and there’s nothing else to do. You might as well smoke.”

Alec Landsberg said it was his second time ever attending the local shop.

“I have enough, but you never know. I’m just here to get a little bit extra,” he said. “It’s nice I don’t have to go to downtown Toronto anymore.”

Landsberg said he was disappointed in the government’s decision.

“Are they shutting down LCBOs and Beer Stores? No, they’re not. It seems a little bit biased,” he said. “Especially for an individual like myself. I don’t drink because if I drink, I could get gout. So, this is my guilty pleasure.”

“It doesn’t seem fair,” he added.

Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings nine years of experience to her role as regional reporter for Village Media, primarily covering county matters, court, Collingwood and Barrie matters
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