Toronto's public-facing cannabis scene exploded in the years leading up to legalization. First came the unlicensed dispensary rush, and now, just maybe in time for 4/20 — the first in the post-prohibition era — the city of more than 2.7 million people could have more than one licensed brick-and-mortar cannabis store open for business.
What to Know About Toronto
Even though cannabis became legal on Oct. 17, 2018, Ontario set an April 1, 2019, target for licensed retail outlets. Following a controversial lottery of just 25 initial retail licenses for the entire province, it looks like just one store will be ready in time for April 1: The Hunny Pot Cannabis Co., owned by independent proprietor Hunny Gawri, will open a storefront at 202 Queen St. West.
The rush will be on to see what other stores are able to open stores in time for 4/20, such as Tokyo Smoke's forthcoming store in the former HMV music store's flagship on Yonge Street. The promise of licensed stores could also mean a crackdown on unlicensed shops from local authorities.
But even though Toronto is slow to license cannabis retail, you can bet the community will be out in full force.
Things to do in Toronto on 4/20
4/20 Toronto at Woodbine Park
The organizers of Toronto's largest 4/20 celebration have finally settled on a venue — Woodbine Park, in the city's east end, will host the annual smoke-out. They said that after negotiating with local enforcement to move the event from Yonge-Dundas Square in the downtown core, they were given permission to host vendors.
“We still do not have a permit, but Toronto police and the City of Toronto have assured us if we move the event, we can have a stage, live music, vendors,” organizers wrote in a Facebook post. “This 420 Toronto, [there] will be a free Farmers Market. Bring your own tent, table, and clean up after yourself.”
- 1695 Queen St. East
- 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
19th Annual Hotbox 420 Block Party
Toronto's vapor lounges — none of which have consumption licenses yet either — will be hosting their own 4/20 celebrations, too. In Kensington Market, Abi Roach's newly trademarked Hotbox will have its 19th annual 4/20 block party, with outdoor “pot-io,” vendors and music.
- 204 Augusta Ave.
- 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
4/20 Comedy Festival (various venues)
It's also the third annual 4/20 Comedy Festival from April 19 to 21 at four venues: Comedy Bar, Underground Cafe, Rivoli, and Bad Dog Theatre. This year's lineup is stacked with a queer showcase with Aba Amuquandoh and Ashley Cooper and improv at Bad Dog.
- Comedy Bar (945 Bloor St. West), Underground Cafe (670 Queen St. East), Rivoli (334 Queen St. West) and Bad Dog Theatre (875 Bloor St. West)
- April 19-21, 8 p.m. to late
- Price: $10 - $30
There are also a ton of smaller 4/20 gatherings being planned for niche communities: feed your soul with metal at Duffy's Tavern in Bloordale for Varius's first show, or make your one-hitter at Mud Makers ceramics studio on Sterling Road in workshops planned for April 19, 20, and 21, 2019.
Torontonians will also be celebrating their new right to grow up to four plants per household this spring, so take a look at deals to find out what's on sale on the high holiday.
Tips From a Toronto Local
While licensed retail stores will slowly open up shop in April this month, and unlicensed shops will likely take a lot of heat, Lisa Campbell, a former activist turned CEO of Lifford Cannabis, said there is still a lot to celebrate this 4/20.
“As this is the first 'legal' 4/20, I'm also anticipating a lot of enforcement similar to last year cracking down on illegal sales,” Campbell said.
“Personally, I'm celebrating our right as cannabis consumers to legally smoke in the streets in Ontario,” Campbell added. “You can smoke cannabis anywhere you can smoke cigarettes, which is a huge win. I'm also celebrating that edibles will be arriving soon, and it's now legal for any Canadian to make their own.”