Cannabis activist Jodie Emery’s hemp-themed café is officially closed

Jodie’s Joint opened in Toronto's Kensington Market in July 2018

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      Last night, Canadian cannabis activist Jodie Emery announced the closure of her hemp-themed café, Jodie’s Joint.

      The hub, located in Toronto's trendy Kensington Market neighbourhood, opened in July 2018. From the milk and baked goods to the oil used to varnish the countertops, almost everything featured in the shop paid tribute to hemp.

      The plant is known for its versatility and use in variety of goods, from clothing to nutritional supplements. Despite its similarities to cannabis sativa, hemp has an extremely low concentration of the cannabinoid associated with intoxication—tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Hemp is regulated under a separate framework but was cast into a grey area of the law when cannabis was legalized in October of last year. Health Canada officials still struggle to provide clear answers on the use and sale of hemp products.

      Emery made the announcement on the company’s official Twitter account on Thursday evening  (February 21). In the Tweet, she didn’t expand on the reasoning, beyond saying a “variety of factors” played a role in the decision.

      “Being a young entrepreneur in business, and also a high-profile civil liberties and cannabis activist, comes with many risks and rewards. The Jodie’s Joint concept of a hemp-themed coffee shop, based on Amsterdam-style cannabis access and use, is still something I cherish and plan to continue nurturing and growing it into a successful model of cannabis normalization, retail sales, and community gathering spaces,” she told the Georgia Straight.

      “With my patience, passion, and perseverance I believe my dreams will still become reality. Cannabis and hemp are near and dear to me, so I will keep creating businesses and activism efforts to inspire and support our culture and community.”

      When Emery first attempted to open her café last year, she faced community pushback from other shop owners in Kensington Market. A handful of locals didn’t want the neighbourhood to be associated with the history of Cannabis Culture—an illicit dispensary chain she helped build—and petitioned to prevent the opening. 

      Emery says despite the early struggles and recent closure, she will continue her activism efforts and hopes to re-open the shop initially launched as her “dream” café.