No pot tourism strategy for Windsor-Essex until guidelines set, says tourism agency
Local cannabis advocate: 'To me it's absolutely asinine to waste our time which is basically what this is'
As people across Canada prepare for recreational cannabis to become legal later this year the regional tourism agency for Windsor-Essex says it has no strategy until operational guidelines are set.
Recreational marijuana could be legalized sometime this summer as the Cannabis Act works its way through Parliament, while Windsor has been approved for a store.
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But Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) said in a statement to CBC News that it's holding back on a plan until national and local governments iron out the plans.
"There are no strategies on cannabis tourism until there are decisions made provincially and municipally on how the industry will operate," said a spokesperson for TWEPI.
The agency declined an interview request.
'Asinine' to wait
News of the tourism agency holding off on its planning for marijuana tourists was met with harsh criticism from one of Windsor's most vocal cannabis advocates.
"It doesn't make any sense to me," said Jon Liedtke, owner of Higher Limits Cannabis Lounge, who added he expects millions of cannabis consumers to cross the border once recreational marijuana is legal.
"To me it's absolutely asinine to waste our time which is basically what this is," said Liedtke.
Finding the balance
Downtown business owner Mark Boscariol said the city needs to make sure there's an educational strategy for people visiting the region, but isn't sure there needs to be a marketing plan.
"I think it's something that's coming to us no matter what," said Boscariol, who expects a younger crowd of Americans to make their way across the border when recreational pot is legalized.
"I don't want to go back to the days ... back to the kiddie bars at Central, when we were Tijuana north," he said.
"It's something that we need to take advantage of because it's going to bring a lot of people downtown," said Boscariol, adding he plans to have specific menu items geared toward marijuana users.
He said his businesses "dropped the ball" by not preparing specific products this weekend as Windsor hosted a 4/20 festival in the city's core.
Restaurant owner Samantha Buhler was able take advantage of the 4/20 festival this weekend, managing to sellout of burgers on Friday.
"It was definitely the biggest, by far," said Buhler.
She said that sales "literally tripled" with the amount of people who visited the downtown core on Friday.