Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens stands by comments he made about the "riff raff" on the streets of Denver during a recent visit, saying pot legalization in Canada could have similarly damaging results for his border city.
His description of the people he saw, which was published in a Windsor Star opinion column, sent Denver residents into a tizzy, prompting another article on the same topic in the Denverite.
Windsor residents have since called out the mayor as well, criticizing him for his derogatory descriptions.
"What I saw in Denver caused me concern," he said. "I'm a tall guy, I'm a big guy and I've had … 15 years of police-type training with the Windsor Police Auxiliary so I feel confident in being able to handle my own, but what I saw was a lot of erratic behaviour."
Harsh words for Windsor mayor
Seeing the results of what some officials in Denver attribute to the legalization of marijuana has the Windsor mayor worried about pot tourism possibly creating a similar environment in his backyard.
"I was looking behind my back as I was walking because some of these people truly concerned me," Dilkens is quoted. "These were very aggressive people."
Pot proponents in Windsor had harsh words for Dilkens. Jon Liedtke of Higher Limits Cannabis Lounge does not like the mayor's description of people he saw in Denver.
"I was shocked that our mayor would go out of his way to … take pot shots at members of another community," he said. "Cannabis usage, cannabis legalization, cannabis businesses are here and they're not going anywhere. I think we should be dealing with this mutually respectfully rather than calling names."
Despite Dilkens' concerns, he says he supports marijuana legalization.
"I think the criminalization of marijuana has probably been an abject failure and it's appropriate to look for another solution, so we're not criminalizing people who would otherwise not have a criminal record," he said.
Though Dilkens has been criticized for his comments, he has received support as well, including from Sheriff Justin Smith from Larimer County, about an hour outside Denver.
Smith told the mayor the jail population has increased by more than 25 per cent in the three years since pot was made legal.
"He says, since commercial marijuana was approved, they've been overrun by transients and transient-related crime," Dilkens said.
Cities like Windsor will have to ensure they get a cut of the taxes placed on commercial pot sales, which would go a long way to help combat the problems the mayor suspects will emerge.
"There's going to be a lot of revenue flowing through to the provincial and federal governments, and the municipality has to make sure we're getting a cut of that pie to be able to address some of the social issues that we've seen follow in other jurisdictions that have legalized marijuana," he said.