Businesses warn Toronto not to overregulate marijuana

TORONTO – Toronto businesses hoping to cash in on legalized marijuana are warning officials that unless regulations are loosened, the city and province of Ontario could lose out on a mini tourism boom.

The federal government introduced legislation in April with a goal of legalizing and regulating the use of recreational pot by July 1, 2018, but left it up to individual provinces to design their own distribution system and usage regulations.

Ontario is the first province out of the gate with a detailed plan to sell and distribute recreational marijuana.

However, businesses looking to offer marijuana tours in Toronto say they are worried strict regulations that would restrict pot sales to state-run stores and prohibit consuming it outside of private homes would stifle their burgeoning industry.

“Canada is already renowned for its cannabis and renowned for its relaxed atmosphere around it,” said Abi Roach of Toronto’s Hotbox Café. “If (officials) decide not to embrace it, if they clamp down, we’ll lose that tourism market that already exists.”

Roach (apparently her real name) said visitors have been bringing their own cannabis to her café since 2003. But with the government cracking down on unapproved dispensaries, she said places like hers are also in the province’s crosshairs.

“There are millions of tourists that come to Toronto each year,” Roach said. “That’s a lot of people with nowhere to consume their legal cannabis.”

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