Beginning April 1, 25 cannabis stores across Ontario will be allowed to open their doors, including two retail stores in Kingston. But will opening the door to retail cannabis mean that cannabis tourism soon takes off?
Bill Durnford, chair of Tourism Kingston, says he has heard from several international tourists that many Americans are excited to make the trip north following the legalization of cannabis.
“I spoke with a few farmers from Alaska, and they were making some offhand comments about cannabis being legal in Canada and they are able to smoke up,” said Durnford.
Unlike other retail products or tourist attractions, the promotion of cannabis is hampered by several federal rules.
The rules that govern cannabis are similar to tobacco, particularly when it comes to restrictions on marketing and advertising. For instance, cigarettes have been kept out of sight at convenience stores for years as part of an effort to protect young people from underage smoking. Now, cannabis retailers will have to follow similar rules that prevent them from using typical marketing campaigns to target tourists.
The current rules allow producers like VIVO in Napanee, Ont., and Canopy Growth in Smiths Falls, Ont., to have tourists inside but not to experience their products on site. Kingston currently does not have a cannabis plant that could accommodate tours, but if one were to open, Tourism Kingston believes it could draw people from Canada and abroad.
Global News spoke to both tourists and Kingstonians about the idea of tours at cannabis production sites, and many said they are intrigued by the process and would be interested in seeing how it is produced.
Next month, Rolling Greens Golf Club in Smiths Falls will become eastern Ontario’s first cannabis-friendly business.