Is it time for a former Toronto dispensary that challenged the status quo to merge with the corporate world to survive?
After weathering two raids and difficult times to get a license, a Toronto hydroponic shop, owned by Katy Perry, a veteran Canadian marijuana activist, is readying up for legalization.
Right across a church, Grow Op Hydroponics at Bloor Street West, has new plans to survive a post-legalization terrain, widely criticized for favoring big corporate giants or those who are simply well-connected.
Grow Op Hydroponics used to be a dispensary called Canadian Green.
Perry’s Hydroponics, which opened its doors in early 2016 initially to provide medical marijuana to patients, currently sells grow equipment and gives once a week class to teach people how to grow weed.
License finally on its way
But the good news especially after two raids and accusations of trafficking marijuana due to inaccessibility and bureaucratic limitations to get a permit, Perry, 35, is finally in the process of finalizing her license from Health Canada to enable her to work as a legal entity, ready to enter the soon to be legal marijuana market on Oct. 17.
“After I get my license, the [licensed producer] LP I am involved with is called Commanda, a grassroots organization,” she said. “A lot of people, who are involved [in Commanda], were in the cannabis community for 10 years or more. What we are trying to do is be that stage where we can show off our Canadian cannabis culture.”
Perry’s new LP – Commanda – is going to be located in North Bay, Toronto, in the vicinity of her original farm where she used to plant and grow media marijuana as a former home grower.
“The licensing and the submission to health Canada cost us money but everything from supporting documentation, the construction… that costs a lot of money,” she said.
“We are talking about millions of dollars.”
Building the facility with its security system and fences will cost “millions of dollars,” she adding, “everything is very expensive.”
But for Perry, a mother of two, she will need to leave her old dispensary, which holds a “very special place” in her heart, but excitement for her new chapter triumphs any other emotions.
“This shop has a very special place for me,” she said. However, she said the new production facility will produce the “best weed Canada has ever seen,” she added excitingly.
So far, it has been an ongoing process and a very busy one for Perry, also a medical marijuana patient herself, to make her new business stand on new brand feet.
“I have investors, I have funding, I have partners I am working with.”
Asked if shaking hands with the corporate is what old dispensaries, who, thanks to them, built the original Canadian cannabis culture, have to do to survive, Perry somehow agrees.
“That’s right, there is nothing wrong with the merging of the corporate world and the grassroots community,” she said. “I mean, I think that’s a great link, a great relationship, but it has to come with a mutual respect. Without the respect, it will never merge.”