• Sophie Stekel

‘Friendly Stranger’ aims to be ‘safe space’ for students



It’s been one week since cannabis shop ‘Friendly Stranger’ opened its doors just outside of the Western University main gates.


It was a strategic move to open their doors at Richmond Street and Broughdale Avenue — a convenient location for students.


Western USC Secretary-Treasurer Declan Hodgins highlights the convenient location of Friendly Stranger for students. He says is if a student chooses to consume cannabis, all they need to do is walk five minutes instead of taking a bus downtown.


Friendly Stranger’s general manager, Shaun Filion, wants the store to be a safe space for students to buy and learn about weed.


Filion says everyone is very excited to have Friendly Stranger here, see all the accessories in the store and all the different ways to consume cannabis.


He says people have liked seeing the staff be as passionate as they are about cannabis. “They make sure you’re getting exactly what you came in for. If you’re unsure, we’re able to educate you,” he says.



President James Jesty says Friendly Stranger will sell any cannabis product available. They have over 100 strains of cannabis flowers, oils, rolls and vape products. They also have a wide selection of edible products like truffles, dark chocolate and cannabis-induced tea.


Ward 6 Coun. Phil Squire said he’s received a number of complaints from residents in the area about having a cannabis store in their neighbourhood and near the university, although he says he’s not too concerned.


Hodgins also acknowledges the risks associated with cannabis use but says, “It’s not our job to tell students how to live their lives. Rather than telling them what to do, we’re making sure they make an educated decision.”


That’s why the USC has the Health Promotions team does workshops on campus to educate students about cannabis use.



“Our goal is to break down that stigma about the use of cannabis,” says Filion.


All of Friendly Stranger’s cannabis is legal and has been approved for sale by Health Canada. All 38 staff have also gone through hours of intense training.


Friendly Stranger applied to open over a year ago but their application did not get approved until the summer when they won the cannabis retail lottery.


This is Friendly Stranger’s second location but the first to sell cannabis. They have been selling paraphernalia in Toronto for 25 years.


This is the fourth cannabis retail store to open in London.


They plan to open 20 more locations by the end of the year.

 
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