Niagara Falls coffee shops could soon be emitting a purplish haze — like a kettle, steeping a fresh brew of tourism-dollar tea.
Niagara Falls council will ask leaders of the city's tourism industry for input on allowing Amsterdam-style marijuana cafes and designated smoking hotels in the city.
The motion for a report to council comes after the provincial government released a questionnaire of where and how people think marijuana should be used.
Council heard Niagara Falls resident and medical marijuana user Clarke Bitter speak about allowing the cafes in the city. He said the impact on the city’s economy could be significant, bringing as many as 3,500 jobs in the first year.
“These would be new establishments because it wouldn’t be allowed in the same places as alcohol,” said Bitter, noting we should take a look at places like Colorado, where tourism revenue increased significantly during the first year cannabis was legalized.
“These numbers are astronomical. We in the Niagara Region, many of you know, have the highest unemployment rate, and it’s been that way for some time. This could really help with that throughout the region,” said Bitter.
“We know what wine does for tourism; the entire country’s wine market is $6.5 billion … that includes the server giving you the wine at a restaurant. The projected cannabis sales federally … they expect that to be about $6.5 to $7.5 billion the first year.”
Bitter said the cafes would operate similar to the way restaurants and bars license alcohol.
He encouraged council to make a formal comment to the Premier in support of allowing the Amsterdam-style cafes in light of the potential positive impact on tourism.
Coun. Wayne Thomson said it’s a “very serious situation” and that he’s already sent the questionnaire to Niagara Falls Tourism and Niagara Parks for them to provide their feedback.
Here are two links where you can find more information or give your feedback: news.ontario.ca/mag/en/2018/1/ontario-seeking-feedback-on-cannabis-regulations.html and news.ontario.ca/mag/en/2018/1/ontario-seeking-feedback-on-cannabis-regulations.html.