Windsor businesses brace for pot tourism boost

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Windsor businesses brace for pot tourism boost

Windsor businesses could be in a position to capitalize on the federal government's plan to legalize marijuana by next year, according to a couple of entrepreneurs dreaming up ideas for the region.

CBC News learned the government will announce the proposed pot legislation next month, aiming to make pot legal by July 1, 2018.

That change could send ripples throughout the country's economy, said Jon Liedtke, co-owner of Higher Limits, who has some sweet visions of marijuana friendly businesses that could bring more visitors to the city.

"It's going to be baked-good shops and candy shops up and down the streets," he said. "It's going to be restaurants that may not want to deal with cannabis in their foods, but maybe they want to have cannabis-infused drinks. The possibilities are endless."

A more tempered view

Larry Horwitz, the executive director of the Downtown Windsor BIA, has a slightly more tempered vision than Liedtke, but he also sees the potential for tourism in Windsor.  

If done properly, and if businesses follow the rules, then Windsor could experience an economic boon, Horwitz told CBC News.

"As things move forward, we are going to get a better feel for how things are implemented and how our next move will be in terms of the future and how we can both protect ourselves and take advantage of the situation that may open up for us," he said.

Leamington medical marijuana producer Aphria expects to be a leader in the recreational pot market, but company CEO Vic Neufeld says the country is still some far from having a robust market. 

Even after marijuana is legalized, the provinces will have to move quickly to determine where and how pot will be sold.

"The recreational world in Canada is still two years down the road," he said.

Whatever the timeline, though, Liedtke says the Windsor region can capitalize on a major opportunity.

"We need to be looking at all the opportunities that cannabis can provide, in terms of economic development, in terms of jobs, in terms of tourism — putting us on the map," he said. "We have an opportunity to be on the forefront of something."