Pubdate: Mon, 05 Feb 2018
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jacquie Miller
Pages: A2-3


Ontario's proposal to allow people to consume marijuana in hotel rooms
opens the door to a boom in cannabis tourism, says lawyer Matt Mauer.

Mauer heads the cannabis law group at Minden Gross in Toronto and says
he knows businesspeople who are interested in opening
cannabis-friendly hotels and resorts.

Mauer says he was surprised by the province's proposal to loosen up
the ban on consuming cannabis anywhere other than private homes.

The government has also asked for public comments on whether to allow
cannabis lounges.

Mauer said he assumed the provincial government would eventually
consider exemptions to the Cannabis Act passed in December, which bans
consumption in public places.

"I was surprised that it happened so quickly."

Mauer calls consumption in hotels "step No. 1" in the development of a
cannabis tourism industry.

"You could come to Ontario, go to the government-owned retail store,
pick up your cannabis, head out to the hotel room, consume it there
and head out to wherever you are going that evening, to a show or an

The provincial regulations unveiled last month propose that cannabis
could be consumed by residents and their guests in rooms at hotels,
motels and inns as long as the drug is not smoked or vaped. Smoking
and vaping marijuana would be allowed in designated smoking rooms.

The regulations have been posted for public comment. The government
plans to put them into effect when recreational marijuana is legalized
across the country, expected in July.

Ontario has also opened the door to cannabis consumption lounges,
asking for public comments on the idea. There's no time frame for the
lounges, but rules won't be in place by July. The province says the
comments it receives will "inform future policy development and

Abi Roach, who runs a cannabis vaping lounge in Toronto called Hotbox
Cafe, says she's interested in opening more if they become legal. She
dreams of the day when lounges will be allowed to sell single servings
of cannabis, just like drinks are served in a bar or restaurant.

At the Hotbox (slogan: "serving potheads since ... ahh I forget"),
guests pay a $5 entry fee and bring their own pot.

If Ontario allows lounges, they probably won't feature smoking inside
because of concerns over the health dangers of secondhand smoke to
both customers and employees, Roach said. "I don't like to be in a big
smoky room, either."

At the Hotbox, only vaping is allowed inside. Pot smokers puff at an
outdoor patio.

Roach also sees a demand for pot-friendly hotels. She's helping design
a cannabis-themed room at a hotel to be built in downtown Toronto.

Each room in the hotel is owned by a private investor and offers a
themed experience. If cannabis consumption is made legal in hotel
rooms, they'll go ahead with that project. However, Roach said she
doubts if Canada will see a big influx of cannabis tourists from the
U.S. because we'll be competing with a growing number of American
states that are legalizing pot, some of which have taken a more
creative, freewheeling approach.

Ontario plans to sell cannabis from behind the counter at a restricted
number of government-run stores. That won't appeal to people who want
convenience and innovative products from craft producers, Roach said.

"Canada really has to be careful in terms of blocking innovation in
this industry."

Roach said she recently drove from Vancouver to Washington state,
where she stopped at a gas station and bought a joint.

"To me as a tourist, it was like, 'Wow, this is great!' " she

In Embrun, 40 kilometres southeast of Ottawa, Frank Medewar says he
plans to open a lounge if they are made legal. He already runs
InfoCannabis, a service that advises people about medical marijuana,
and Seed 2 Weed, a store that sells growing equipment.

Medewar says his lounge will be modern and upscale, similar to an
old-fashioned cigar lounge.

At the headquarters of the world's largest medical-marijuana company,
Canopy Growth Corp. in Smiths Falls, spokesman Jordan Sinclair said
the company would love to make the huge grow-op a tourist

Canopy is in a former Hershey chocolate factory that was famous for
tours taken by thousands of schoolchildren and tourists. Canopy plans
to have the plant open for public tours this summer, Sinclair said.

The company would also like to run a retail store on site, so the
experience would be similar to a winery tour. However, the province
has nixed that idea.

At Ottawa Tourism, spokesperson Jantine Van Kregten said the
legalization of cannabis is on the radar. However, she hasn't heard of
any specific plans for hotels or other tourist ventures.

"I think everybody is kind of taking a wait-and-see approach. I
haven't heard a lot of talk, a lot of scuttlebutt in the industry of
what their plans are. I think a lot of questions are unanswered about
exactly how the legislation will roll out."
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MAP posted-by: Matt