Generations of negative stigma went up in smoke when recreational marijuana became legal, and there was plenty of partying on Oct. 17, 2018, including here at a legalization street party in Windsor. Meant to tackle the criminal element, legalization instead appears to have triggered a black market bonanza. Dan Janisse / Windsor Star
Michigan is rolling out cannabis retail sales months ahead of schedule, likely snuffing out Windsor’s chance of becoming a pot tourism destination.
The state awarded its first licence this week allowing the sale of recreational marijuana — including bud, edibles, lotions and vaping products — to begin Dec. 1.
Ward 3 Coun. Rino Bortolin said Ontario’s “ridiculous” slow rollout of retail sales after Canada legalized marijuana in Oct. 2018 — a month ahead of Michigan — will mean a missed opportunity for Windsor.
Ontario did not green light a retail outlet for Windsor until this summer. Further delays have put the owner’s plan for a Nov. 1 opening at least a month behind schedule.
“Being on the border here, we missed a huge opportunity for anything with cannabis tourism, people coming across the border to partake in it ahead of Michigan,” said Bortolin.
“We saw it with gambling. We had a lot of great years in Windsor when the casino was the only game in town and people were coming from Ohio and Michigan to gamble here. As soon as the ones in the States opened, especially in Detroit, you saw Caesars Windsor come right back down. So we missed those good opportunities.”
Other provinces have full complements of stores completely stocked, no line-ups
Windsor Coun. Rino Bortolin is pictured in this file photo from a council meeting on Monday, March 25, 2019. Dan Janisse / Windsor Star
The Ontario Cannabis Store, and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency awarded retailer, grower and processor licences to Exclusive Brands in Ann Arbor. PSI Labs, also in Ann Arbor, received a licence as a safety compliance testing facility.
Real Leaf Solutions, based in Kalkaska, Mich., received an event organizer licence. That licence will allow the company to pull permits for events around Michigan, similar to having a licensed beer tent at a festival.
Michigan voters approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in November 2018. After that vote, the state was required to