Ontario moves to allow hotel marijuana consumption in boost to tourism industry

(This story has been updated to include bed and breakfasts.)

Ontario’s plan to liberalize cannabis consumption rules is a major boon for the tourism sector, according to industry executives and analysts, because it gives hotel owners the ability to allow recreational consumption in guest rooms.

Ontario’s Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act – introduced in the Legislature on Thursday – would put owners of hotels, motels and bed and breakfasts in a position to capitalize on cannabis tourism if it is approved.

However, access to cannabis products will remain an issue until the retail landscape becomes clear.

Recreational cannabis sales will be limited to mail order from Oct. 17 – the first day of legalization – through March 2019, with the first brick-and-mortar retail outlets in Ontario not expected to open their doors until April.

The newly proposed consumption rules are a significant departure from those approved by the previous Liberal government, which would have strictly limited recreational marijuana use to residences.

The new legislation, on the other hand, would essentially allow adult-use cannabis to be consumed wherever smoking is permitted.

If approved, consumption will also be allowed in long-term care homes and hospices.

Business opportunities will likely be focused on niche or boutique hotels for now, as most larger hotels already ban smoking, industry sources said.

“The opportunity for job creation and tourism (from legal cannabis) is going to happen in Niagara Falls, Ontario,” said Wayne Thomson, chair of Niagara Falls Tourism. “I don’t think there’s any question it will have an impact on tourism.”

Matt Cronin, the CEO of Canada High Tours, agreed that bringing cannabis consumption rules in line with the Smoke Free Ontario Act is going to have a significant impact on marijuana tour operators.

“That is incredible news for us, as it enables our guests to consume without fear of breaking any laws in public, before, during and after a tour – as long as it’s in a designated smoking zone,” he said. “Yesterday, you could only consume recreational cannabis in your own home or in a property where the landlord permits it.

“Today, that has been blown wide open.”

The company, which plans to offer cannabis-friendly tours, said it is already engaging with boutique-style hotels and bed and breakfasts in Ontario who are interested in capitalizing on the new sector.

Matt Lamers can be reached at mattl@mjbizdaily.com

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