Province's pot plan doesn't take 'toking tourists' into consideration, say critics
'We're going to be seeing an immense amount of cannabis tourism from Americans'
Sarnia's Mayor is worried the provincial government's pot plan doesn't take into consideration the "huge influx of toking tourists" who will descend on border cities once marijuana becomes legal.
Mike Bradley was listening in on a conference call as the Liberals rolled out their strategy Friday and said it left more questions than it answered, especially when it comes to droves of people crossing the border to smoke legal bud.
"It's not controllable," said the mayor. "I think anyone would be naïve to think it's not going to be, at least at the beginning, a huge attraction to bring young people over."
Ontario's government announced its plans to open 80 cannabis stores by July 1, 2019, with another 150 by 2020. Online distribution will be available across Ontario from July 2018 onward and a proposed minimum age of 19 has been set to use, purchase and possess recreational cannabis.
Jon Liedtke, owner of Windsor's Higher Limits cannabis lounge, said it's a "positive" that the Ontario government wants to be ready for cannabis legalization, but called the new storefront plans a continuation of the "nanny state."
The marijuana activist agreed with Bradley's observation the impact on border cities seems not to have been considered.
"I don't think they are going to take into account we're going to be seeing an immense amount of cannabis tourism from Americans," said Liedtke, adding that he expects the stores to be sold out on day one.
Liedtke said he's happy the government opted against distributing cannabis through the LCBO for a number of reasons, but that he hoped for an opportunity to allow privately licensed sales.
"We had hoped that there might be the opportunity for the government to treat consumers as adults but also business people as adults to allow them to operate in this sphere," he said.
Liedtke expects consumers will eventually realize they would prefer private sales, and added he can't imagine how the government will operate the new cannabis stores.
"They're going to have to have training and they're going to have to learn about cannabis, and who is the government going to hire to teach them?"