Legalization ended ‘romance’ of cannabis counterculture, owner of closing Glebe shop says

‘The proliferation of cannabis shops certainly affected our sales’

CBC News – Dec 18

Mike Foster opened Crosstown Traffic in 1992. He says the store will be closing its doors forever this spring. (CBC)

Crosstown Traffic — one of the oldest stores selling smoking paraphernalia in Ottawa — will be closing its doors for good in the spring.

Mike Foster opened the head shop in Westboro in 1992 before moving to its location in the Glebe in 1997. The iconic cannabis counterculture store became something of an institution in the city.

Foster was involved in efforts to legalize cannabis because he said he didn’t want to see people getting arrested for using the drug, but its legalization also led to the growth of larger retail operations catering to cannabis aficionados.

“The proliferation of cannabis shops certainly affected our sales on smoking accessories,” he said.

“Once legalization happened, our sales plummeted on that. There’s so many stores out there now, like every few blocks there’s a cannabis shop and you can buy your papers or pipes there. So that aspect of our business suffered.”

Photos on a bulletin board.
Some photos on display at the store. (CBC)

Despite the challenges, Foster doesn’t have any regrets about supporting legalization efforts.

“I was still happy to see progress being made in that regard.”

David Soberman, a professor of marketing at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, said stores like Crosstown Traffic have lost the “forbidden fruit appeal” they had when cannabis was prohibited.

Head shops had a “rebellious” nature that drew people in, Soberman said, working in the margins between legal and illegal.

“Legalization kind of takes a bit of a romance out of the whole cannabis counterculture rebellion,” Foster agreed.

 “I’ve visited Amsterdam sometimes and there it’s just another commodity you know, and that’s what it will become here … just like socks or cheese or something else you can buy, like the culture that goes along with it kind of dissipates a little.”

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