Doug Ford Doesn’t Want Cannabis-Smoking Lounges In Ontario: “Do It Somewhere Else”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is thumbing down the proposal from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to allow cannabis-smoking lounges in the province.

“I don’t like the idea of having a lounge outside and they’re smoking or doobies or weed or whatever the heck they call it now,” the premier said.

As part of its 2023 Provincial Budget Proposal, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce is calling for the legalization of cannabis lounges throughout the province. The Chamber wrote in its budget proposal a recommendation to “facilitate cannabis consumption establishments and implement special occasion permits.”

This advice comes nearly five years after recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada, and it reflects the rapidly expanding industry, which has so far contributed more than $43 billion to the national GDP.

Allowing cannabis lounges, according to the Chamber, would assist to modernize the marijuana sector, attract investment, and develop the economy. These establishments, if implemented, might benefit both consumers and retailers.

“In the three years since recreational cannabis was legalized in Canada, it has quickly emerged as one of Canada’s fastest-growing sectors and has since contributed over $43 billion to our national GDP,” states the chamber’s report. “Yet major hurdles – including an overly restrictive regulatory regime – inhibit economic growth, deter investment, and squeeze margins for producers and retailers alike.”

But Ford has become vocal in resisting the proposal to be implemented in the province, harking back on his opinion that he doesn’t like the idea of kids walking by and smelling it.

“I don’t like that personally,” he said. “If you want to do your stuff, do it somewhere else. That’s my opinion.”

The chamber’s president and CEO, Rocco Rossi, told the Toronto Star that a number of cannabis stores are struggling financially, considering that illegal sales still account for almost half of the market.

He advocated for regulatory relaxation, as well as cannabis lounges or bars and pop-up sites at concerts or sporting events — a move that tourist organizations have also lauded as a method to attract more people to the province.

“You’ve got some municipalities that allow (cannabis stores) and some that don’t, so you’ve got a bit of a chaotic rule structure. I think this is an area where three years in, you can and should be having ongoing conversations to make things more transparent, more consistent,” Rossi said.

But on Tuesday, Ford resisted calls by the Chamber for the government to step in.

“There is store after store and I always said the market is going to dictate,” Ford said. “You go to a strip mall and you can have three convenience stores side by side — eventually there’s going to be one left. That’s what’s happening to the cannabis stores. In my opinion, the market always dictates, not government.”

Daniel Safayeni, the chamber’s vice-president of policy, said that during their consultations with the alcohol and gaming commission, they “suggested (lounges) could provide a safe, secure, and sanitary environment, particularly for new and inexperienced customers, to consume cannabis products such as edibles and beverages, which tend to have larger education gaps.”

Information for this briefing was found via Toronto Star, 6ixbuzz, and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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