At Grand Bizarre, customers can swim, eat, drink, mingle and now, if they feel like it, stroll around the corner and smoke cannabis in a restricted area.
The Cannabis Carnival is being hailed as one of the first of its kind in Ontario – a dedicated place to smoke cannabis, which its president, Zlatko Starkovski, says is in line with the Smoke Free Ontario Act.
“I think cannabis smokers generally need a safe, responsible place to smoke when they go out,” Starkovski told CBC News.
“There are a lot of people who smoke at home, in cars and potentially overconsumers, so we are taking a proactive approach to cannabis smokers now that it has been legal since 2018.”
Starkovski notes that there are plenty of places to buy cannabis, but not many designated places to consume it. He says Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Ontario Cannabis Store are training partners.
“We have checked all the boxes to make sure we also avoid passive smoking,” he said.
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“Alcohol is not served in the cannabis area … and we do not sell cannabis, you bring your own.” Starkovski said, adding that being on Exhibition Place and working in such a large area helped them comply with the guidelines.
“We have room to do something like that.”
There may be more designated cannabis sites
Brad Poulos, a lecturer at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Toronto Metropolitan University, says space is a creative idea and he expects to see more similar ones.
“We’ll definitely see more of these things emerge as people discover what you can and cannot do.
with respect to the rules regarding cannabis consumption, especially smoking, “he said.
“Because there are many places where you can not smoke cannabis … I definitely think we want a cannabis lounge industry at some point,” Poulos said, adding that it already happened before legalization.
The province says it has started some consultations on consumer lounges.
George Smitherman, president and CEO of the Cannabis Council of Canada, says spaces like this are a step toward normalizing cannabis use.
“It’s most beneficial to the consumer of cannabis, which, although we’ve had legalization, was somehow forced to consume behind the bin,” he said.
And although Smitherman says it is not easy to establish a place like this within the province’s rules, he believes there is an appetite for it and a chance for the industry to improve tourism.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of development in this space over time,” he said.
“Keep in mind that we’re mostly talking about outdoor consumption because we’re talking about dry-flowered cannabis, but there are an exciting array of other products that would be suitable for indoor consumption, such as edible goods, beverages and even infused foods.”
So far, the outdoor space at Grand Bizarre will be open this summer, with the potential to become permanent in the future.