Photo courtesy of Kryptokronic
As we all know, cannabis is set to be legalized in Canada come July 2018, and with that deadline, provinces and municipalities are scrambling to get their infrastructure and retail models for cannabis ready.
While many of the provinces have focused on how Canadians can access and use cannabis, not much time has been spent on the out-of-province and international travelers who may want to check out what the cannabis scenes are all about.
Cannabis tourism already exists in Canada
But that’s not to say that cannabis tourism doesn’t already exist in Canada. Despite non-medical cannabis being illegal since 1923, there have always been tourists visiting Canada who have been interested in everything that Canadian cannabis has to offer, especially in the major metropolitan centers of Vancouver and Toronto.
Even before Canada began taking the steps towards legalization, Canadian cannabis was known around the world for its quality- BC Bud has been a household name for cannabis connoisseurs for decades.
Abi Roach, the owner of Toronto’s Hot Box Cafe, told Metro Canada that 40-50% of her annual visitors are from out-of-town or out-of-country.
Nowadays, cannabis in Canada is easier to buy than ever on both coasts of the country because of the influx of dispensaries willing to sell to anybody over the age of 19, which is very encouraging for tourists without a medical license.
CLN has covered cannabis tourism in Canada before, such as when Canna Tours Canada launched back in March 2016, and in the time since, the burgeoning cannabis tourism industry has only grown. Tour agencies, such as Canada High Tours, are all eagerly awaiting legalization but at the same time, they face some major uncertainty.
The Big Question: Where can cannabis be consumed?
According to Matt Kronin, the CEO and founder of Canada High Tours, “We are still waiting to hear on the ‘Where can I consume?’ challenge. Will the government allow the lounges to take in recreational use? I think they will have to here”.
With hotels banning smoking in their rooms, tourists have few options where they can safely consume although there are some cannabis- friendly Airbnb’s out there. But tourists aren’t the only ones affected by a lack of consumption spaces. Canadians who live in condos, apartments, and renters of all stripes often face the same dilemma.
As Toronto City Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker told CBC, “If you want to do it in the privacy of your own home, you can do that. There is nothing stopping anyone from smoking in their own home, condo or apartment unit, so there is no need for a lounge”.
But with his argument, one must wonder if Coun. De Baeremaeker has ever had to deal with strata, or has even lived in an apartment or condo, because it is never that easy- regardless if you’re an owner or renter.
What might we see in the future?
Matt Kronin, from Canada High Tours, envisions a robust cannabis tourism industry, saying, “We believe we are going to see a huge demand from the public to be educated in ‘cannabis culture’ – both domestically and from international tourists alike”, but acknowledges that it still hinges on the government’s framework and whether lounges will be allowed and regulated.
While we wait for the rules to be cleared up, tour agencies are putting together tour packages in anticipation of legalization with something for everyone- from “Nervous 1st Time Buyer” tours to classes on joint rolling and growing your own cannabis.