hobo cannabis

The company behind Belfast Love is opening cannabis stores in Toronto and people are not impressed

A new cannabis brand has just landed in Toronto, but its arrival has received a cold welcome from some people in the city who aren't impressed with its name. 

Hobo Cannabis —  run by the Donnelly Group Vancouver-based watering hole chain responsible for Toronto pubs like Belfast Love and Death & Taxes — opened its doors Friday at Yonge and Dundas, marking the first of 10 stores slated to launch in the GTA. 

The brand already has nine minimalist stores across Canada, but it's come under fire in Toronto for its use of the word Hobo: a term originally used to describe migrant workers in America, today mostly used to reference (in some cases derogatorily) people experiencing homelessness.

A blurb on the brand's site explains their decision-making for its name. 

"We didn't build this brand for everyone," it says on its hiring page. "That's not how businesses work anymore. Hobo was designed with our tribe in mind, one with aligned values and cultural appetites.

Our name was chosen with a sense of wanderlust in mind, one shared by wayfarers who rode newly developed railroads in the late nineteenth century. Also, it's edgy and a conversation-starter." 

Some aren't buying Donnelly's connection between the small group of modern, self-identifying hobos (whose transient traditions have also been co-opted by the fashion industry) and a minimalist cannabis brand from a well-known hospitality group. 

A few have also been quick to point out that a couple of Hobo's upcoming Toronto stores will be located across from homeless shelters, like the Leslieville location which is a two minute walk from Salvation Army New Hope, or Bloorcourt's store directly across from the women's shelter Sistering

Donnelly Group president Jeff Donnelly said that they "would never name a brand that we thought may marginalize people." 

"The origin of Hobo is defined as a migrant worker, choosing a lifestyle of travel. We often define ourselves this way, a small group often traveling coast to coast for work." 

In his statement, Donelly also emphasized the Donnelly Fund, headed by his wife and mother, in which the company volunteer "time and money predominantly in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside." 

"We have many programs and partnerships that we are passionate about, focusing on the struggles that occur daily. We have a very positive dialogue with the Sistering shelter on Bloor and look forward to taking action on the relationship moving ahead." 

The company came under similar backlash in Vancouver last year, when word first got out that the the pub chain was launching Hobo. 

Canada's weed industry is no stranger to problematic names. Available at Hobo's new YDS store, along with most other licensed Ontario shops, are products like the Durga Mata 2 indica strain, distributed by a Vancouver-based brand called "Namaste" — enough said. 

Lead photo by

Nahum Mann

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