Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to legalize marijuana soon isn’t the reason Sarnia has a growing number of head shops, store owners and managers say.
“Unless they allow head shops to sell marijuana, I don’t think legalizing marijuana will have any impact on us,” said Umar Khan, owner of Your Highness, which opened Dec. 1 on Christina Street downtown.
“It won’t mean a boon for us or an expansion. At the very most, maybe a 5% increase (in sales),” he said.
Trudeau has said the Liberal government will introduce legislation in 2016 to legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana.
The number of head shops in Sarnia, which sell paraphernalia to medical marijuana users and for the consumption of tobacco and herbal molasses, has doubled to four to two in the past eight months.
Khan said it made good business sense to open Your Highness here because so many regular customers were travelling from Sarnia to his London store.
“The only people affected by (marijuana) legalization will be the growers and dispensers,” said Khan.
“People who smoke marijuana will still smoke marijuana. The number won’t change.”
Nor is Khan concerned about too much competition in Sarnia.
“We work for the happiness, not for the profit,” he said. “A real business man is never scared of competition. He likes it.”
Themptations Hemp Goods and Culture, a head shop just a few doors down from Your Highness, opened about 15 years ago and also sells a wide variety of clothing and body care products. Its owner wasn’t available for comment.
The Smoke Station opened in April at 1200 London Rd. and its manager agrees legalization won’t impact the number who smoke weed.
“I don’t think it will convince people who have never used it to start,” said Brad Huey. “We might get a few more recreation users in here because they’ll be without fear, but I think the real growth for us will be medical users.”
A growing number of medical marijuana users use vaporizers, which sell in local head shops for anywhere from $50 to $2,000, according to several managers.
“Whoever is into (marijuana) now will still be into it. New users won’t start because of legalization,” said Joey VanCampen, owner of Mr. Nice Guy’s at 178 Davis St.
“It will be great to see legalization happen because right now it’s in the hands of drug dealers, and some don’t have morals,” VanCampen said.
“If it’s regulated, kids can’t get it as easily.”
Mr. Nice Guy’s in Sarnia will likely close down in January and focus on its Wallaceburg location, he added.
“There’s only a certain amount of money in this industry and having four head shops in Sarnia is too many.
“But we’ll be okay. The Wallaceburg shop does really well and we’re looking at opening a store in Chatham,” said VanCampen.