Blackburn News – Mark Brown – January 26, 2018
The owner of a local business wants to put legal pot availability on a level playing field with alcohol and tobacco.
On Friday, the Ontario Cannabis Consumer and Retail Alliance will launch Sensible Ontario, an initiative by pot advocates to bring licenced consumption lounges and private storefronts to the province once recreational marijuana use is legalised across Canada this summer. The campaign is also hoping to make the issue a hot-button one during this year’s provincial elections.
Jon Liedtke is the co-owner of Higher Limits, a business in downtown Windsor that gives people using medical marijuana a place to consume it. While he is excited about the prospect of Ontario increasing access to pot consumption, he says the province needs to take it further.
“The province has indicated that they are opening up consultations to see if people want to allow for businesses to receive a licence to have cannabis consumption on site,” says Liedtke. “While we are heartened, and we welcome that, we don’t think it goes far enough.”
The province announced last year that Windsor would be the site of one of the first stand-alone cannabis stores in Ontario when it is legalised this July. A total of 40 shops province-wide are projected to be ready by then and will be operated by the LCBO.
Liedtke thinks the number isn’t high enough considering the options people have to purchase alcohol and tobacco legally.
“We believe that 40 cannabis stores across the province is an absurd number,” says Liedtke. “It doesn’t go anywhere near meeting the demands that we will have just here in Ontario.”
Liedtke thinks the issue is more prevalent because of Windsor being a border town. He points out that over 7-million potential customers live within a three-hour drive of Windsor and one single business will not meet the demand.
Sensible Ontario is also calling attention to some landlords and university housing officials laying out rules for pot consumption on their premises, even for use in the privacy of consumers’ own homes. With residents having to abide by the rules surrounding dorms and rental units, Liedtke says they would need more places to go to consume marijuana legally.
“When legalisation occurs, the way no-smoking policies and university smoking policies are going, is they’re prohibiting the combustion and vaporisation of cannabis of all forms across the campuses themselves,” says Liedtke.
Liedtke says his business has already served 60,000 customers in its two years of existence and expects it to grow when recreational pot is legal.