Hotels, guests, and cannabis: Lawyer presents workshop for operators

Tourism PEI and the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. have asked a local lawyer to look into what people running hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts should be considering as the industry goes into its first season with legal cannabis.

'There is no real, standalone, right to use cannabis'

On P.E.I. tourist operators can decide where their guests are allowed to smoke cannabis. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Tourism P.E.I. has asked an Island lawyer to look into what people running hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts should be considering as the industry goes into its first season with legal cannabis.

The province sponsored cannabis information seminars Tuesday in Summerside and Mill River.

"It's important for tourism operators to be familiar with [the rules], to get the idea themselves of how they can control it, how they can limit it, how they can allow it," said Jessica Gillis, a lawyer with Cox and Palmer.

Even now we don't know what to expect. It's new. It's new for everybody.— Nicole Wilson, Twin Shores

Gillis said the province has largely left it up to accommodations operators to determine how cannabis can be consumed on their property, to allow it in guest rooms or not, to create a designated space outside or not.

The information session entitled Cannabis and the Tourism Operator will be held four times across P.E.I. to help prepare businesses for the summer. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

It is also important that those rules be clearly communicated to guests, and for guests to make a point of learning what they are.

"There is no real, standalone, right to use cannabis. It's just no longer illegal," she said.

That was why the Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island wanted to be one of the sponsors for the seminars.

Help Island business prepare

"There are rules and regulations but again they have to set their parameters and give consent but there is a lot of unanswered questions still that will come into the future," said TIAPEI CEO Kevin Mouflier.

Businesses will decide how to implement rules that will accommodate legal cannabis on their property. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

"So it's a critical time to get educated on this piece so that we are prepared for the upcoming season and the tourists coming to our Island."

Some of the people who attended the workshop on Tuesdays in Summerside were taking what they learned back to where they work.

"We have to get some printed items, whether it is at check-in time, in the rooms," said Gilles Richard with Quality Inn and Brothers 2 Restaurant in Summerside.

"Plus we have to train our staff to indicate to our guests that it is not permitted in the rooms or in the building, and … where is it legal and allowed to go and smoke."

"Next step will be taking the information that we learned today and speaking with the rest of our team and looking into the regulations, doing some additional research and figuring out what we're going to do," said Nicole Wilson, marketing and development officer at Twin Shores Camping in Darnley.

"Even now we don't know what to expect. It's new. It's new for everybody, so it's just a matter of figuring out what we can do."

Open to interpretation

The laws, both federal and provincial, are new and so far untested in the courts. That leaves them open to some interpretation for now, said Gillis, and makes it difficult to speak about them with certainty.

Gillis advises tourism operators to be very clear with guests where they can and cannot smoke cannabis. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press)

"My interpretation is one thing and I know some would certainly agree with me but I'm sure others will read it and have a different interpretation," she said.

"That's where we'll wait for the court to step in and regulate around how narrowly or broadly to interpret particular provisions."

Seminars for cannabis and the tourism operator are also scheduled for Charlottetown and Montague Thursday.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Island Morning and Jessica Doria-Brown


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