By Colin Butler, CBC News on December 11, 2022
An unlicensed, Indigenous-owned cannabis retail store has opened its first urban location in London, Ont., looking to claim space in a crowded marketplace by selling cannabis its own way — potentially setting the stage for a major test of Ontario’s cannabis retail laws.
Maurice French, 51, a self-described entrepreneur from Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, held the grand opening of the Spirit River Cannabis trading post on Saturday. The London store is the newest in his fleet of three dispensaries, located in Ipperwash, Melbourne and Chippewas of the Thames — and the only location inside a major urban centre.
Spirit River’s debut puts it in direct competition with more than 40 private cannabis retailers in London, whose operations are not only licensed but tightly regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO).