Jodie Emery is moving ahead with her controversial plan to open a “hemp” themed cafe unimaginatively called “Jodie’s Joint” in Kensington Market, directly across the street from the iconic HotBox Cafe.
When she first announced her plan to take over the space that has been occupied by Casa Coffee for decades (one of only two places you can get a decent cup of coffee in Toronto), Emery was met with outrage from the local community, many of whom were shocked that she could even consider opening up a competing business across the street from HotBox, which was founded by Abi Roach some eighteen years ago and has since become a shining bastion of weed culture in Canada’s largest city.
In classic form, Emery slandered Roach and her allies while simultaneously playing one inappropriate victim card after another, choosing to hear the accolades of her army of uninformed followers over the well founded concerns of people with an actual stake in the professional community.
The result of this exchange, seemingly, was that Emery had her dreams smashed and decided that she would not open a “hemp” cafe across from HotBox, despite, as she stated repeatedly, the fact that her business model would not effectively cut Roach’s grass.
Heartbreaking news to share. My dream of a “Jodie’s Joint” cafe has been killed by Lisa Campbell & Abi Roach, and their cruelty and intentional lies. My dream was to open my own independent business based on coffee, which I love almost as much as cannabis: https://t.co/hqBPw1uwza
— Jodie Emery (@JodieEmery) May 21, 2018
Hemp cafe blocked by Abi’s @CannabizCanada “Cannabis FRIENDLY Business Association” (which I donated to). Not friendly to this cannabis activist businesswoman: https://t.co/YQItmIDLTa pic.twitter.com/KAyiwaPeyo
— Jodie Emery (@JodieEmery) May 23, 2018
To bystanders on social media, this seemed to be the end of the matter. Despite her inability to admit the callousness and opportunism of her plan, Emery seemed resigned to not being able to open her store up directly across the street from HotBox, even going so far as to hyperbolize the matter, implying that she didn’t feel welcome in the city of Toronto at all.
But far be it from Emery to listen to the voice of reason and public opinion outside the circles of her own confirmation biases. A few days after the disagreement, she enigmatically posted this to instagram:
Then all was quiet until Tuesday, when she dropped this bombshell:
Welcome to “Jodie’s Joint”! I’m pleased to officially announce the launch of a personal, independent project that will help me begin a new exciting chapter in my life. Please let me introduce you to @jodiesjoint cafe! For many years I’ve dreamed about a hemp-themed cannabis cafe that would combine my love of cannabis, hemp and coffee. When federal legalization was introduced, I planned to make that dream a reality. At this time, I’m sad to say the restrictive prohibitions at every level of government make an Amsterdam-style cannabis retail model impossible — but as with all excessive and unnecessary regulations, we simply need to engage in continued activism and lobbying to improve the rules. The good news is that coffee is still legal, as are hemp materials and food items, so I can combine those two elements for now and continue my activism work to introduce the third! “Jodie’s Joint” cafe is not a cannabis dispensary, and won’t be serving any cannabis products until legally allowed to do so. We hope to evolve into a consumption space as well, to be an example of a safe location for cannabis enthusiasts to gather and enjoy good products with good people. The location of my new cafe is very important to me and many others. I’m honoured to have been chosen as the inheritor of a cornerstone landmark, where “Casa Coffee” operated for decades in the heart of Kensington Market. It’s a privilege to be able to carry on the corner cafe tradition that Ozzie and his family have built up for more than half a century. This new “Jodie’s Joint” venture will serve coffee, hemp goods, and cannabis-related items, but it will also serve as a community and culture hub, where we can bring together creative individuals to collaborate and share ideas and dreams. (…continued in comments…) #JodiesJoint #Toronto #Cannabis #Hemp #Coffee #Community #Culture #Cafe #Coffeeshop #History #Evolution #Dreams #Happiness #Love #Friendship #KensingtonMarket
Not only has Emery thumbed her nose at the Toronto cannabis community with this move, but she’s completely failed to acknowledge her transgression and lack of transparency.
Taking a closer look at her announcement, the following points stand out.
She says that Jodie’s Joint is an “independent project that will help me begin a new exciting chapter in my life,” making one wonder if she is perhaps trying to distance herself from her infamous husband’s now toxic Cannabis Culture brand. What’s more, she seems to be shedding the CC brand not to go out on her own, but rather to grasp at the coattails of others.
She also says that “the good news is that coffee is still legal, as are hemp materials and food items, so I can combine those two elements for now and continue my activism work to introduce the third! ‘Jodie’s Joint’ cafe is not a cannabis dispensary, and won’t be serving any cannabis products until legally allowed to do so. We hope to evolve into a consumption space as well.” Despite her protestations that the initial outcry against her move was unfounded because her business model didn’t share any similarities with HotBox—one of the oldest cannabis smoking spaces in the world—here she openly admits her intention to allow cannabis consumption in Jodie’s Joint, even stating her hope that she will be able to sell cannabis at some point, as if HotBox wouldn’t jump on the same opportunity.
Abi has a headshop & lounge. I was going to collaborate on a cafe (lattes, espresso etc) with a local small business owner’s coffee shop brand.
It wasn’t even competing business. I was replacing the 50-year-old existing Casa Coffee cafe; owner Ossie loved me & my idea. He’s sad.
— Jodie Emery (@JodieEmery) May 22, 2018
On top of this, she’s going to be selling “cannabis-related items” right out of the gate, the purview of which has long belonged to HotBox’s sister business (a head shop located in the same space), Roach o Rama. Anyone who thinks thinks this move is anything but straight up opportunism honestly needs to get their head checked.
It’s important to remember that Toronto is a huge city, and that at no point did Roach express an issue with Jodie opening a cannabis cafe in the city, just not directly across the street, in direct competition with HotBox. Jodie declined to hear this, stating that she wasn’t welcome in toronto at all—then proceeding to open her store in the contested location anyway in an act of clear disrespect and disregard for the community she claims to be a spokesperson for.
But as Jodies says: “the location of my new cafe is very important to me.” Funny, given that she has lived in British Columbia for her entire life. The location is important to Torontonians though, as it is prominently placed on a busy corner of Kensington market, a funky and bustling retail district in the heart of the city.
Though the location also has its limitations. For example, it’s very small: big enough for only a few patrons to sit for any amount of time. And while Casa Coffee is renowned for its espresso, this can be directly linked to the fact that the cafe’s owner was personally responsible for brewing the beverage, and had decades worth of experience that can’t simply be passed on to someone who has spent the last 15 years selling bongs and peddling shoddy info to mainstream media outlets.
Now, Ms Emery is clearly free to open a store wherever she pleases. It’s common practice in a free market for stores selling similar products to open near each other. And if the market can bear two of the same type of businesses across the street from each other, great!. But the issue is more that there has been an unfounded entitlement, a lack of respect, decency, and transparency on behalf of someone who purports to be not just a member of this community, but its most sanctified representative. This is a common theme and pattern with Ms Emery and her army of Cannabis Cultists.
I hope that you’ll take these considerations with you the next time you’re in Kensington wondering which side of the street to get your smoke on. Like so many have already said, only the free market can determine whether Jodie’s Joint will last anywhere near the eighteen years that HotBox already has under its belt.
* Sometimes satire writes itself.