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Smokers, businesses embrace the arrival of legal marijuana

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Troy Shantz

Not even a chill in the air could keep Ethan Trepanier from grinning ear to ear.

The nineteen-year-old and his friends emerged from a sale at Themptations in downtown Sarnia on Oct. 17, clutching bongs and papers to celebrate the end of a 90-plus year prohibition on recreational cannabis.

“It’s awesome that we can just walk down the street now without having to worry about whether or not we’re getting caught by the cops,” said Trepanier.

“It felt stupid before not being allowed to do it.”

Themptations’ owner Mike Dobson said he never thought he’d see the day cannabis was legal.

“We’re changing our mindset to embrace now what is perfectly legal, which we always thought should be legal,” said Dobson.

“I don’t think we’re going to see more people smoking pot. I just think we’re gonna have a lot more people being honest about the fact that they smoke pot.”

It is now legal for adults 19 and older to purchase cannabis at Ontario-licensed retailers and carry up to 30 grams with them at a time.

Up to four plants can be grown per residence, and it’s OK to share 30 grams with other adults.

Dobson started Themptations in September of 2001 with a focus on hemp-related goods. Though hemp and marijuana originate from the same plant, hemp is nearly impossible to get a high on, Dobson said. Instead, it’s used in skincare products, candles and clothing.

But the culture of hemp advocates and marijuana users go hand-in-hand, as seen in the store’s product selection.

“We’ve always taken pride in making sure we’re always following the letter of the law,” Dobson said. “With the laws changing, we can openly speak intelligently about the products we sell.”

Across the street, three-year-old Tugboat Vaping Co. is also embracing legalization.

Co-owner Martin Lacombe said the company is in “full expansion mode” and hopes to become one of Sarnia’s first privatized cannabis retailers.

“We have a good reputation here… and the Ontario government said they want to support mom and pop business,” he said, gesturing to the back of the store where a dispensary could go.

“Fingers crossed,” he said.

“It makes sense for vape shops to get into it because we’re used to selling vaping apparatuses. There is a link here.”

To learn more about cannabis laws, visit

Adults can purchase cannabis in Ontario at

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