The former Jackson Fisheries property in Port Stanley may soon be converted into a cannabis store.

Raymond Kahnert, a spokesman for the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, today confirmed that AGCO is processing an application by The Bud Hub to sell marijuana at 172 Main Street.

“An application was received end of July 2021,” said Kahnert. “The eligibility and due diligence process for this applicant and the proposed location continues.”

It is not yet clear whether the applicant is associated with the The Bud Hub, on Talbot Street, in St. Thomas, or how the application relates to Maverick Real Estate broker Craig Hansford’s purchase of the old fish market for $1.7 million in March. Coincidentally, the London broker’s acquisition was scheduled to close this month.

“I cannot provide you with an estimated date when the (eligibility) process will conclude,” added Kahnert. “Each store applicant is at a different stage of the licensing process.”

The sale of products containing the psychoactive drug tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)  – including cannabis flower, tinctures, topicals, pre-rolled joints, edibles and concentrates – has been permitted since the federal Cannabis Act was enacted in 2018. The process is heavily regulated.

“Well to say that I’m shocked is an understatement,” said Ann Stevens, proprietor at Little Beach Shop, across the street from the proposed cannabis shop. “I can only guess that this will be met with enormous push back. Well I can tell you that was not part of the harbour development plan.”

When and if the Port Stanley application is approved, the applicant is required to post a public notice placard “in full public view” at the store location for 15 days. Concerned local residents may register to receive updates on local applications.

Hansford seemed upset with inquiries about his project. “Clearly you just want to ruin anything and everything that would happen at this property,” he said in an email. “You are a real piece of work.  Stop putting my name in articles. It’s getting ridiculous.

” … I have no answers and won’t for a while,” added Hansford. “I am going through planning. It’s a long, extensive process and nothing is even passed or near approved, including the cannabis shop.

“The planning process could take up to another year, but the more we stir up controversy the more likely the building will end up sitting vacant forever,” he added.

Ontario municipalities had a one-time option to opt-out of having cannabis retail stores in their communities.

“Central Elgin opted-in to permit cannabis retail stores in 2019,” said Paul Shipway, Central Elgin Chief Administrative Officer and Clerk. “The licensing of said stores is the responsibility of the AGCO.”

As of November 22, 2021, Kahnert said there are 1,218 stores authorized to open in Ontario.

The new owner of the Jackson Fisheries property is also considering plans for a four-storey, 14-unit commercial-residential building on the 170-172 Main Street site.