A note taped to the front door of Triple J’s Canna Space on Wood Street on April 17, explains that the opening of Whitehorse’s first private retail shop for cannabis will be delayed due to red tape. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Opening of Yukon’s first private pot shop delayed as it awaits licence

“I am tired of being at the mercy of the government”

The doors to the first private pot store in the territory are remaining closed, at least for now.

Triple J’s Canna Space co-owner Jordi Mikeli-Jones told the media late afternoon on April 16 that the planned April 17 10 a.m. opening would be delayed at least a day while she and Jeremy Jones, her husband/business partner, wait for their retail cannabis licence from the territorial government.

Based on figures from the Yukon government’s Cannabis Yukon store, Mikeli-Jones is estimating a loss of $10,000 per day loss due to the delay leading up to 4/20, which Triple J’s believes will be their busiest day of the year.

“I’m livid,” she said, sitting inside the largely empty store on Wood Street. “We have done everything that’s been asked of us. We’ve exceeded the standards they’ve set.”

Everything to open the store hinges on that licence, down to the debit machine.

They cannot go to Whitehorse City Hall to get their city business license without the cannabis licence; they cannot go to the Yukon Liquor Corporation’s warehouse to get the order they’ve already told warehouse staff to expect without that licence and the merchant they’re getting the debit machine from cannot provide it to the store without a copy of that licence, a clearly frusterated Mikeli-Jones explained.

She and Jones had expected the licence to be available April 15, the same day there was an objection hearing to the license. Mikeli-Jones had asked for the hearing date to be scheduled earlier, but to no avail. The hearing should have been a formality, she argued.

The objector didn’t bother showing up for the hearing and instead Mikeli-Jones found herself making the same arguments she has made many times over in seeking approval from various governments for the store. She pointed to extensive security measures in place, their plans to give back to the community, make the area a more vibrant part of the downtown and work with governments going forward.

It was a very one-sided hearing, she said, with just Triple J’s there to defend the plan and no submissions from the one person objecting to the licence.

When they weren’t able to get the licence on April 15, they thought it would be coming on April 16. As the business day came to a close without a licence — and thus no business licence or cannabis supply (or a debit machine for that matter) — she had to announce it would not open as planned.

As posted by Triple J’s Canna Space on social media: “It is with deep regret we are writing to advise that due to circumstances beyond our control, we will not be able to open our doors for business as planned for April 17.

“We are very frustrated with YG process, however we remain cautiously optimistic we will be licensed and ready to receive your smiling faces on Thursday April 18.

“Please stay tuned to our page for updates. We are appreciative for your patience and support as we continue to be at the mercy of our government.”

A total of 12 staff are impacted by the situation.

“I have 12 disappointed staff,” Mikeli-Jones said, adding it’s not clear why the government could not issue a conditional license until the full license is available.

She and Jones are hopeful they can secure their licence — and thus get their city business licence and cannabis supply in time for an April 18 opening. She is looking into using alternative technology for debit or credit card purchases that would plug into a tablet to allow cards to be swiped until their debit machine is available.

Mikeli-Jones emphasized the efforts she and Jones have made to work along side governments as legislation was drafted and developed to allow first for legalization and now the private retail sale of cannabis. At the same time they were also developing their business plan, ensuring they met and exceeded all the required regulations, and getting all their required paperwork into various legislative bodies on schedule.

“I am tired of being at the mercy of the government,” she said. “I’m exhausted.”

If the store can not get its licence by April 18, they will not be able to open for 4/20 given that Friday is a holiday.

Mekili-Jones said she’s hopeful they’ll open the doors to customers at 10 a.m. on the 18th.

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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