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Ontario marijuana shop opens 1 day after New York state budget passes without marijuana legalization

Posted at 6:20 PM, Apr 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-01 18:20:44-04

ONTARIO, C.A. (WKBW) — The future of recreational marijuana is still up in the air in New York state.

That's because lawmakers have passed a budget that does not include the legalization of pot.

While Albany debates what happens now, our neighbors to the north can now shop for pot, as recreational marijuana became legal in Canada late last year.

"It's very exciting. It's been a long process for us," said Kevin Trethowan, Co-owner of the Niagara Herbalist.

A long line of customers waited outside the Niagara Herbalist in St. Catharines, to have their ID's checked before going in to shop at the Niagara region's first store to sell recreational marijuana.

Inside, customers can browse options from a menu, with more choices displayed on TV screens.

Customers can see and smell some of the products, and find out more from staff members.

"We also have an education room. So for people that aren't too comfortable with speaking about it in public, we have somewhere where they can go, which we're going to call like a safe space," said Trethowan. "And they can chat with one of our highly educated staff members in there."

Trethowan said ten other cannabis stores have been authorized to open in Ontario.

But if you cross the border to buy marijuana, you can't bring it back home with you.

"We do have on our receipt - we do say on there 'Please consume within Canadian boarders' and do not cross international boarders with it," said Trethowan.

Niagara Herbalist opened one day after New York state passed a budget that does not include the legalization of recreational marijuana.

But Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said she's hopeful New York will soon join 13 other states and the District of Columbia that have already made marijuana legal for recreational use.

"It's hard to say in our state that we're going to lock people up in jail and let them have a criminal record for doing something that's completely in Canada, literally across the rover, or in other states around us. That's not sustainable and it's not fair," she said.

And making marijuana legal could give a big boost to Buffalo's economy.

The company "Flora Buffalo" is planning to build a cannabis campus in the city once it's legalized, and create 500 to 1,000 new jobs.