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HighLife cannabis store finally gets 'green' light to open

Province gives Marcus Drive store approval after 45 days
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Sudbury's second cannabis store, Highlife on Marcus Drive, has finally been given provincial approval to open. (File)

After 45 days of waiting, the second cannabis store in Greater Sudbury has received approval from the province to open.

The HighLife store, owned by Anton Lucic, will be located on Marcus Drive. Lucic is expected to make a formal announcement Thursday on how quickly he will be able to open.

Once its operating, the HighLife store will be the city's second cannabis outlet. Demand has been strong at the Canna Cabana store at the Four Corners, owned by Saturninus Partners. Lineups outside the store have become a regular sight since it opened April 20.

With approval for HighLife, 24 of the 25 cannabis stores approved in Ontario have been given the green light to open. The last store waiting for approval is the Fabulous Leaf outlet in Oshawa. 

Raymond Kahnert, senior communications adviser with the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, said in an email Wednesday he couldn't speak about any individual applications, but said the province worked with the store owners throughout the process.

While owners who didn't open by the end of April were liable for a $50,000 penalty, Kahnert said the legislation didn't include a process for removing a cannabis store operator for taking too long. 

“There is no provision for a disqualification based on a store not being open,” Kahnert said in an email. “The process of eligibility and licensing continues.

“The AGCO continues to work closely with each applicant (including HighLife, 1299 Marcus Dr.) to process their applications as quickly as possible ... As soon as operators believe they are ready, the AGCO will be there to perform its final pre-opening inspection.

“Having said that, to safeguard the public interest, the AGCO will only licence operators and authorize stores to open once satisfied all legal and regulatory requirements have been met.”

While not available to comment Wednesday evening, Lucic said in earlier interviews he has hired more than 40 staff for his store.

HighLife will carry about 350 lines of cannabis products, mainly from the Ontario Cannabis Store, but a few of their own, as well. Customers won't be able to handle the marijuana before they buy, but they will be able to take a sniff from special goblets, and even take a look with a magnifying glass.

"Everything is ready,” Lucic said in an interview earlier this month. “The only thing missing is the most crucial part — the license. As soon as I get it, I can place my order. And as soon as the delivery is made to the store, we can open up, right away." 

When it is open, the store will operate seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Age restrictions will be vigorously enforced and anyone under age 30 should expect to be asked for ID.