Pubdate: Tue, 07 Feb 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Dale Carruthers
Page: A3


With legislation to legalize marijuana expected in the spring, a new
player has emerged on London's increasingly crowded pot-dispensary

The Chronic Hub Social Club has opened at 119 Dundas St., the first
marijuana dispensary to set up shop in the city's core.

The new pot shop brings London's dispensary count to six, four of them
popping up after Justin Trudeau pledged in the 2015 election campaign
to legalize marijuana.

"It's just another reason to come downtown," said Charles Colvin,
chief executive of the Chronic Hub. "That's what you want in your
downtown core, is for people to be down there."

But the head of Downtown London isn't applauding the arrival of a new
tenant in the former Jambalaya restaurant.

"If it's legalized, then they have every right to be there. Is it the
kind of business we choose for Dundas Street? Absolutely not," Janette
MacDonald said of the dispensary.

"It's going to be our flex street. We're looking for that to be
populated with restaurants and cafes."

The Chronic Hub mirrors the approach of its sister store in Vancouver,
billing itself as a nonprofit compassion club that sells only to
members approved during an in-house Skype consultation with a medical
professional or who already have a prescription for medical marijuana.

Colvin, 28, said he'd been eyeing setting up shop in London for the
past year but was waiting to see how things played out with
authorities first.

When Tasty Budd's dispensary held a high-profile opening in the
summer, officers descended on the Wharncliffe Road business days
later, charging the franchisee and an employee with drug

But the defiant dispensary reopened days later, rebranding itself as a
low-key compassion club, and has remained in business.

The Canada-wide battle between dispensaries and law enforcement
agencies is playing out in cities from Vancouver to Halifax. The shops
are illegal under a federal law that limits the sale of medical
marijuana to a few dozen government-approved producers.

But dispensary operators cite a 2014 federal court decision that said
forcing patients to buy their prescription pot from approved sellers
violates their constitutional rights.

Trying to clear the confusion critics say he created, Trudeau said in
December that municipalities should "enforce the law" when it comes to
illegal storefront dispensaries.

London police, however, appear to be turning a blind eye to the
growing number of pot shops.

Colvin, who didn't consult with police before opening, said foot
patrol officers pass by his store regularly.

"They walk by every day," he said just minutes before a pair of
officers passed by.

Police weren't available to speak about dispensaries

Open seven days a week, the Chronic Hub sells marijuana, hash, oil,
THC concentrates and cannabidiol hemp oils. The store doesn't carry
THC-infused edibles, a move aimed at avoiding the ire of public health
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