Ontario proposes tourism-boosting idea that will allow hotel room cannabis consumption

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News/Editorial Writer

In September of last year, Canadian cannabis connoisseurs were left feeling disheartened when consumption of the green plant was prohibited outside of private residences.

However, it seems that the Ontario government have given cannabis tourism a second thought, following the announcement of a proposal to broaden the areas in which consumers can take a toke.

The provincial government have revealed limited proposed regulations framework in accordance with its Cannabis Act, 2017. Considering the fact that cannabis consumption was only banned in public spaces in December, this is a fairly rapid change in rules for Canada’s cannabis industry.

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Members of the public have even been asked to pass their opinion on Ontario’s cannabis consumption proposal. Depending on the decision of the public, cannabis lounges may be allowed in the province, which could not only result in a surge in tourism but also, provide business professionals with an opportunity to launch their own cannabis-friendly establishments.

“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 event,” is a comment from Matt Maurer, head of Toronto-based cannabis law group Minden Ross.

According to the province, public comments will “inform future policy development and consultations.” The regulations are expected to go into effect in July, after recreational cannabis becomes legal countrywide.

Suggested regulatory framework for cannabis consumption in Ontario

Guests who choose to stay in hotels, inn and motel rooms in the Ontario province will now be permitted to consume recreational cannabis inside the space, as long as the cannabis is being ingested by alternative methods to smoking and vaping. In order to legally smoke or vape cannabis, the consumer must book accommodation in a designated smoking room.

Numerous issues are addressed under the Cannabis Act, 2017 proposed regulatory framework, such as:

  • transportation of medical cannabis;
  • consumption of medical cannabis by vehicles and boat passengers;
  • consumption of medical cannabis by passengers of privately-owned vehicles and boats;
  • consumption of medical cannabis in private workplaces

Despite the relaxed rules and regulations pertaining to hotel room cannabis consumption in Ontario, the province restricts use of the medicinal herb inside schools, child care centers, buildings/grounds enclosed by schools conforming with the Education Act and places where programs are carried out consistent with the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014.

One success is already underway in Canada… 

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Residents of Toronto are already capitalizing on the growth of Canada’s cannabis industry. Located in the capital of Ontario is a vaping lounge that goes by the name of Hotbox Cafe

Hotbox Cafe has been described as “Toronto’s first pot positive joint.” Owned and operated by Abi Roach, the premises are open to guests who want to vape cannabis indoors or alternatively, smoke dry herb in the outside patio area. 

A fee of $5 is required for entry and guests are allowed to bring their own weed for consumption. Roach is envisioning a time when single cannabis servings can be sold legally inside the lounge, much like a restaurant or bar sells alcoholic beverages.

“Serving potheads since … ahh I forget,” is the amusing slogan at Hotbox Cafe, which is just one business venture Roach is currently involved in. Her next venture will be a cannabis-inspired room inside a downtown Toronto hotel. One room is designed and owned by Roach. The other rooms will be designed/owned by private investors.

Canada really has to be careful in terms of blocking innovation in this industry,” says Roach, who anticipates accelerated demand for ‘green’ hotels this year.

The future for cannabis tourism in Canada

Although fixed plans for cannabis legalization have not been put into place, the future is looking pretty green for Canada. Despite this, competition with the U.S. is expected to be fierce, what with 30 states and the District of Columbia having already legalized cannabis in some form.

I think everybody is kind of taking a wait-and-see approach,” says the spokesperson for Ottawa Tourism, Jantine Van Kregten.

Questions regarding legislation have not been answered clearly as of yet, but with the province contemplating recreational cannabis consumption in boats that have been parked on-land or docked, (as well as inside hotels, inns and hotels,) Canada’s cannabis industry looks hopeful.

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