In just a few weeks, Canada is set to become the second nation in the world to legalize recreational weed, with some reports predicting the new industry will generate more than $6 billion by 2020.
While the retail schemes and rules around public consumption will vary widely from province to province, some cannabis entrepreneurs are already banking on a tourism market set up around legal weed.
Conrad Floyd, owner of Hamilton Village Dispensary, recently opened up a weed-focused Airbnb conveniently located just above his pot shop.
The one-bedroom space is advertised as a “cannabis friendly condo” that “offers a safe and luxurious environment for the cannabis enthusiast. Smoking cannabis is permitted and encouraged.” It is listed for $99 a night.
Floyd told VICE within 48 hours of being posted online, much of September booked up.
As for what makes the location unique from other Airbnbs, Floyd said there are dab rigs and other essentials for smoking cannabis inside, and it’s located above his dispensary. Plus, he said he has a 100-plant medical grow under construction that will eventually be a “learning centre where guests can spend time with our grower.” He said he’s also renting the dispensary space out for private parties that include an “open bud bar.”
“I’m not banking on getting a licence for retail in Ontario so I’m putting all my chips into canna tourism,” Floyd said, noting he’s also working to secure a 36-unit hotel in Niagara.
Floyd has faced considerable obstacles in his bid to run a pot dispensary in Hamilton over the last two years. He voted for Premier Doug Ford in Ontario’s most recent provincial election, with the hopes that Ford would allow private pot dispensaries rather than the government monopoly favoured by the Liberals. He was right—Ford’s government recently announced weed in the province will be sold through private retailers.
That decision has given hope to others who’ve long been in the cannabis space.
Abi Roach opened her vape lounge HotBox Cafe 15 years ago and also runs HotBox Jamaica Bud & Breakfast—a beachfront property that offers ganja tours.
Roach told VICE from spring until fall, 40 percent of customers at the Kensington Market vape lounge come from out of town. The cafe sees around 200 people a day.
Currently, vape lounges that existed prior to the Smoke Free Ontario Act have been grandfathered in but Roach said they are still waiting for a full set of regulations. The former Liberal government also made it impossible to consume cannabis virtually anywhere except for a private dwelling—and some landlords and condo boards are fighting against consumption on their properties.
“I think there are a lot of politicians in the PC party that are in support [of us],” Roach said. The issue is fighting the stigma created by a century of prohibition.
“Everyone’s kind of afraid because they don’t want us to turn into Amsterdam.”
In US states where cannabis is legal, businesses have popped up selling weed-friendly limo rides, tours of dispensaries and legal grows, and even weed weddings.
Roach said once cannabis is legal here, tourists will come looking for similar experiences.
“People are going to be coming to Canada looking for legal weed, looking for places to consume, looking for hotels that are cannabis friendly, and private retail experiences that are exciting and Instagram worthy.”
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