12/15/2016 01:51 EST | Updated 12/15/2016 03:49 EST

Montreal Sees 8 Marijuana Shops Open In One Day; Backers Admit They're Illegal

MONTREAL — Eight pot dispensaries aimed at recreational users opened as planned in Montreal today and are set to begin selling their products later this week.

Two well-known pot activists from Vancouver behind the Cannabis Culture stores and brand were on hand for the grand opening.

Jodie Emery says they know such outlets are illegal under current federal legislation but are hoping local authorities will leave them be.

Marc Emery, who owns the Cannabis Culture brand with his wife Jodie, right, gestures at the opening of one of their pot stores, Thursday, December 15, 2016, in Montreal. (Photo: The Canadian Press/Paul Chiasson)

The storefront outlets are popping up as Ottawa forges ahead with plans to legalize marijuana, with legislation expected in spring.

Emery owns the Cannabis Culture brand with her husband Marc Emery, the self-styled "prince of pot," and they say franchisees are interested in opening in Ottawa, Halifax, Calgary in the coming months.

She says the Montreal locations are being backed by one principal investor who prefers to remain anonymous.

Montreal police haven't said what they plan to do about the shops but have stressed such operations are currently illegal.

The openings had been teased for weeks and several dozen people piled into one of the boutiques on Thursday looking to purchase marijuana.

Emery says two additional Montreal locations are to open by the end of the month, with a dozen already operating in British Columbia and Ontario.

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