At Le Grand Bizarre, guests 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 billed as one of the first of its kind in Ontario – a venue dedicated to cannabis consumption which, according to its president, Zlatko Starkovski, complies with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.
“I think cannabis smokers in general need a safe and responsible place to smoke when they go out,” Starkovski told UKTN News.
“There are a lot of people smoking at home, in cars and potentially in overconsumption, so we’re taking a proactive approach for cannabis smokers now that it’s been legal since 2018.”
Starkovsky notes that there are many places to buy cannabis, but not many designated places to consume it. He says Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Ontario Cannabis Store are educational partners.
“We checked all the boxes to make sure we’re avoiding second-hand smoke as well,” he said.
WATCH| Cannabis smokers have a new outdoor space at Exhibition Place:
“There is no alcohol served in the cannabis area…and we don’t sell cannabis, you bring your own.” Starkovski said, adding that being at Exhibition Place and working with such a large area helped them stick to the guidelines.
“We have the space to do something like that.”
Other cannabis-only spaces could emerge
Brad Poulos, a lecturer at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Toronto Metropolitan University, says the space is a creative idea and he expects to see more.
“We’re definitely going to see more of these things pop up as people find out what you can and can’t do,
when it comes to the rules around cannabis use, especially smoking,” he said.
“Because there are a lot of places where you can’t smoke cannabis… I really think we’ll have a cannabis lounge industry at some point,” Poulos said, adding that this was already happening before legalization. .
The province says it has begun consultations on consumer fairs.
George Smitherman, president and CEO of the Cannabis Council of Canada, says spaces like this are a step towards normalizing cannabis use.
“It’s mostly beneficial to the cannabis consumer, who even though we had legalization, was kind of forced to consume behind the dumpster,” he said.
And while Smitherman says it’s not easy to set up a place like this within the province’s regulations, he believes there’s an appetite for it and opportunity for the industry. to improve tourism.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of evolution in this space over time,” he said.
“Keep in mind that we’re talking primarily about outdoor consumption because we’re talking about dry flower cannabis, but there’s an interesting range of other products that would lend themselves to indoor consumption, like edibles, drinks and even infused foods.”
For now, the outdoor space at Grand Bizarre will be open for the summer, with the possibility of it becoming permanent in the future.