Where to Operate? Choosing the underground cannabis industry or the regulated one

Where to Operate? Choosing the underground cannabis industry or the regulated one

Countries around the world have regulated cannabis, and some of them even offer medicinal cannabis in a similar way they do with pharmaceutical drugs. Yet, none of these countries have created an ideal industry structure that paves the way for sustainable growth and success.

In some countries, like Russia or Saudi Arabia, cannabis is still completely illegal. At the same time, other countries have varying levels of legality for consumption. Some countries, like Argentina have decriminalized the plant for recreational purposes. Still others, like Canada, have fully legalized cannabis for recreational use but regulate it under the same lens as alcohol.

With so many different markets opening up in different ways, people want to know what is better: operating in an unregulated industry, or in a regulated one?

A challenging environment

Working in the underground cannabis industry brings challenges unlike any other, like navigating around the law and managing a growing customer base with limited resources. The regulated cannabis industry faces its own challenges as well, with increased regulation complicating operations and leaving existing businesses feeling overwhelmed. Strict laws around advertising and lab testing have made it difficult for businesses that are just entering this government-controlled system to succeed. No matter what sector of the cannabis industry you find yourself in, challenges are sure to arise and will require hard work, determination, and clear focus if you want to thrive.

Access to capital

Businesses in the underground cannabis industry face a tight squeeze when it comes to accessing the resources they need. Raising capital to invest in anything of scale or creating any form of credit is incredibly difficult. The situation becomes even more complicated when it comes to moving from the unregulated space into regulated markets. Despite public perception that businesses have access to unlimited capital and credit when working with legal cannabis, firms are often frustrated when trying to access traditional banking or financial institutions. There are, however, an increasing number of non-traditional options available for companies looking for financial backing or loans. With guidance from qualified experts, business owners can be directed towards creative options which may help them weather this challenging economic climate and build successful businesses in a changing market.


Security is a top concern in the underground cannabis industry due to the potential for serious criminal charges. Those in the business prioritize security as a matter of survival. Conversely, the regulated cannabis industry faces fewer legal consequences, but still must comply with federal and provincial laws to maintain a license and avoid regulatory penalties. Adhering to safety laws and standards is just as important as avoiding law enforcement.

Product Regulation and Safety

Shopping in the underground market can seem tempting due to lower prices, but it’s important to be aware of the risks involved. Consumers have no way to know for certain the quality and safety of the products they are buying, which could put them at risk of consuming unsafe goods. When it comes to buying items in a regulated market, consumers have peace of mind that these products have been held to high standards. They are monitored regularly by regulatory bodies, meaning that users can trust that whatever they’re consuming is safe and has been produced according to best practices. Shopping in a regulated market definitely pays off when it comes to keeping your health and safety a top priority.

Product Innovation

Product innovation happens all the time and the underground market serves as an excellent platform for entrepreneurs with unique ideas to test out their latest creations. However, once those products enter the regulated market, they must adhere to a number of strict rules and regulations in order to remain available. These include making sure that dosages, ingredients, methods of preparation, packaging, and even labeling parameters are all congruent with official requirements. In other words, entrepreneurs must conform to a certain framework if they want to keep their creations on the shelves and make them available to customers. Fortunately, innovation is alive and well despite these strict regulations – creativity always finds a way!

A man is seen cooking and experimenting with candy
Fritz’s founder Ari Cohen conducts much of Fritz’s initial R&D in his own home candy workshop.

Connecting with Customers

Underground producers have the amazing advantage of being able to directly connect with their customers, learning firsthand about product development, use cases, and customer perspectives. This is helpful because it enables them to make changes quickly in order to give their customers exactly what they need and want. On the other hand, regulated producers may have limited ability when it comes to engaging with consumers regarding effects, usage, and so on. This is due to restrictions on marketing or even fundamental differences in the way they do business. Because of this lack of access to customer feedback and insight, it can be more difficult for regulated producers to refine and improve their offerings over time based on customer needs. This can result in a less perfect product experience for their customers.

Fritz’s founder Tabitha Fritz stands in front of a market table in 2017.


The cannabis industry is at a crossroads. As the number of countries legalizing cannabis increases, each jurisdiction must determine just how much regulation is right. There are pros and cons to any regulatory scheme.  If your company is thinking about making the transition from operating in an unregulated environment to a regulated one, we can help. We have the experience and knowledge to guide you through this process so that you can make the best decision for your business. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.

The top 5 misconceptions about cannabis edibles

The top 5 misconceptions about cannabis edibles

Cannabis edibles are new to many consumers, and there are lots of misconceptions about them. Let’s take a look at 5 of the most common consumer misconceptions when it comes to cannabis edibles.

They take too long to kick in

This is one of the most common misconceptions about cannabis edibles. Many people believe that because edibles are ingested, they take much longer to take effect than smoking or vaporizing cannabis. However, this is not always the case. In general, edibles will take effect within 30 minutes to 2 hours after being consumed. However, this can vary depending on a person’s metabolism and other factors, so it’s best to give yourself plenty of time to feel the effects when you’re experimenting with a new dose or cannabinoid.

Woman staring at the clock

They’re too strong

If you’re considering edibles as a method of cannabis consumption, it’s important to know that they don’t always pack the same punch as smoking or vaping. The strength of an edible will vary depending on factors like its THC content and how quickly your body can process it. Make sure to do your research about the cannabinoids you’re ingesting, and keep track of how they make you feel.

They’re not safe

Cannabis edibles are often seen as being unsafe, especially for children and pets. Eating cannabis can be as safe as any other food item. Regulated companies like Fritz’s make edibles from high-quality ingredients under strict standards. Intended for adult consumption only, these goodies undergo careful testing to ensure they’re clean and in compliance with regulations – making them an ideal choice for those who wish to enjoy the benefits of cannabis! And by keeping them in their original, child-proof packages, you ensure that any kids and pets who come into contact with them stay safe too.

You’ll get way too high

Many people believe that consuming cannabis edibles will result in an extremely high level of intoxication. But this isn’t usually the case, especially when consumers are eating regulated edibles that are limited to 10 mg of THC per package. The effects of cannabis edibles vary depending on a number of factors, including the amount of THC in the product and how well it is metabolized by the body. In general, the effects of an edible will peak after 2-3 hours and then gradually decline over the next few hours.

They’re unhealthy

Cannabis edibles are often seen as being unhealthy due to their high calorie and fat content. However, this is not always the case. Cannabis edibles can be made with healthy ingredients such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It can difficult for cannabis companies to get these kinds of products to market because of Health Canada’s strict regulations around allowable products, but consumers can always make their own healthy edibles at home.

6 ways to incorporate cannabis into your date night

6 ways to incorporate cannabis into your date night

Cannabis can be a great addition to a date night with your partner, whether you’re looking to connect more deeply, spice up your sex life, or simply relax and unwind together. In this blog post, we’ll explore six creative and enjoyable ways to incorporate cannabis into your next date night. From setting intentions and trying new activities to cooking and baking together, there are plenty of options for making your date night more enjoyable and memorable. So if you’re looking to add a little extra excitement to your next date, read on for some great ideas!

1. Connect more deeply, in a new way

Cannabis allows us to deeply connect with others by helping us see things in a new way and with a fresh perspective, and it’s a very useful tool for calming the chatter in your mind and helping you focus on your partner.  Try eating an infused chocolate together and allowing your conversation to take on a life of its own. See where your communication takes you and be open to learning new things about your partner, and to sharing your thoughts and ideas.  

2. Enjoy a relaxing evening at home

Cannabis can be a great way to relax and unwind after a long day. Consider preparing a cozy evening at home, complete with your favorite foods, movies, and activities. You can smoke or consume cannabis together and simply enjoy each other’s company while you relax and let go of the stresses of the day.

3. Spice up your sex life

There are lots of ways to incorporate cannabis into your sexual escapades!  You can smoke a joint together first to get into a new and different headspace, or try an infused lube to relax your body and enhance your sensations.  Using cannabis before sex can lead to stronger and more intense orgasms, and a more sensual experience overall.  Cannabis also changes your perception of time, so go slow and take your time.  Keep in mind that cannabis dries out your mucus membranes, so it’s important to have some water to drink and extra lubrication handy! 

4. Go out and try something new

Cannabis can be a great way to open up your mind and try new things. A great way to connect more deeply with your partner is to find a new activity or event to attend together that you might not normally consider. This could be something as simple as trying a new restaurant or attending a concert or event, or it could be something more adventurous like a paint and sip class or a yoga session. The cannabis may help you both feel more open to new experiences and allow you to have a more memorable date.

5. Be more intentional

Cannabis responds well to intention and consuming it can be an opportunity to try new things together.   Maybe your intention is to relax, be open to new experiences, or to communicate more easily.  No matter what intention you set, cannabis allows you to live more consciously, and to really be here now.  Consuming cannabis together allows to you to set new intentions individually and as a couple, and to find new ways of looking at and achieving those intentions.

6. Get creative in the kitchen

Cooking and baking with cannabis can be a fun and interactive activity for a date night. You can experiment with making your own infused dishes or try out some pre-made cannabis-infused ingredients. Not only will you be able to enjoy the effects of the cannabis together, but you’ll also have a delicious meal or treat to enjoy.

No matter which of these activities you choose, cannabis can add an extra layer of excitement and enjoyment to your date night. So next time you’re looking to spice things up, consider incorporating cannabis into your plans.

7 ways to use edibles to get through the holidays

7 ways to use edibles to get through the holidays

Despite the usual joys of traditions, family gatherings, and celebrations, the holiday season can bring mixed feelings. Everyone has their own individual experience of “holiday cheer”, and we might feel happy, sad, stressed, or all three at once. Anticipating those mixed feelings can go a long way towards helping you cope and find the easiest path through the holidays, and using edibles can help you manage the season in the healthiest, happiest way for you.

Over the holidays, it can be easy to find yourself:

  • Taking on too much in your schedule
  • Overindulging in food and drink
  • Spending less time exercising (or skipping your workout altogether!)
  • Missing out on sleep
  • Overspending on gifts and parties
  • Dealing with personal or family illness, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Sharing too much (or not enough) time with family
  • Struggling under work demands
  • Facing others’ expectations of how you should feel or act

But no matter how the holidays make you feel, using edibles in the right way can help you get through the season with as much enjoyment as possible.

7 tips to keep you happy and healthy through the holidays

  • Make boring tasks more enjoyable. Whether it’s shopping for gifts, preparing food, or wrapping presents, some holiday activities can use some livening up. Cannabis edibles are a classic way to create a little joy in an otherwise mundane endeavor. Try something with a balanced THC to CBD ratio to help you relax while you’re enjoying yourself. Check out our guide to finding the right edibles dose to figure out what ratio works best for you.
Take an edible before you do your holiday shopping to make a boring task more fun.
  • Make it easier to be around annoying relatives. If you already know that interacting with a particular person is going to push your buttons, try taking an edible with CBD beforehand to give yourself a little extra mental space. Cannabis can help us be more understanding and inclusive of others. Make this an intention when you consume an edible before a holiday gathering with others who may not be your favourite people.
Make it easier to be around all kinds of relatives, including ones you like and ones you don’t.
  • Focus on self-care. Pick out a few self-care activities you can easily do and pair them with an edible containing CBG. This cannabinoid is newer to most consumers, but it provides powerful benefits to many. While we still need more research, some consumers have reported that that edibles with CBG enhanced their mood, calmed them, and gave them strong anti-anxiety effects. Whether your favourite form of self-care is taking a bath or journaling about your feelings when the stress is rising, you can add CBG to your activity to enhance its self-healing properties. Whatever the activities may be, practice them regularly during the holidays, and don’t let yourself feel guilty for taking care of you!
Edibles can improve the quality of your self-care time.
  • Prioritize sleep. Getting enough sleep is a big part of feeling good and being able to manage the pressure that comes your way during the holidays. With a busier holiday time, it’s easy to find ourselves staying up extra late and/or sleeping in, which confuses our sleep cycles. A good way to keep your sleep on track is to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day whenever you can. Remember, it’s not all or nothing! It’s ok to stay up a bit later a few nights to participate in fun celebrations. Many people have already discovered the sleep-inducing properties of THC and CBD, but if you struggle to fall asleep, try taking an edible that contains CBN, a cannabinoid that consumers have reported as making them drowsy and fall asleep more easily.
Edibles can help you get enough sleep to survive the holidays.
  • Liven up the party. Try offering a selection of edibles at your adults-only party to infuse some light-hearted fun.  It’s a good idea to offer a variety of THC to CBD ratios (including CBD only). Be sure to keep them in their original package so everyone knows exactly what they’re getting!
Edibles can set the right tone for a party. Just be sure to label everything!
  • Maintain your healthy exercise habits. It’s easy to get off track during this busy season, but balancing your eating and physical activity goes a long way towards helping you manage your stress. Try taking a THC edible before taking a walk to brighten up the outdoors and find more warmth in your activity. Or use a high-CBD gummy after a workout to reduce inflammation and make your recovery faster and easier.
Some people might call a hike in the woods and an edible a perfect afternoon.
  • Get crafty and make something new.  Making crafts is a classic holiday pastime, and adds fun to small gatherings with friends.  Dust off that Pinterest board filled with crafty holiday ideas, and take an edible with a balanced ratio of THC to CBD to help you focus at the same time that you open up your mind to new creative ideas. Need some ideas?  We put together a Pinterest board full of fun holiday crafts we’re planning to make this year!
Keeping kids safe around edibles

Keeping kids safe around edibles

There are lots of reasons parents consume cannabis, including decreasing their stress levels while staying focused, therapeutic reasons like sleep, pain or mood management, or just to make playing with their kids fun and easier.  And many parents who consume cannabis choose edibles over other forms because they’re smoke-free, discreet, and convenient. But with edibles comes a very important topic for parents to think about: safety. In particular, what are some things parents can do to keep their kids safe around edibles?

For parents, edibles are arguably the most important cannabis product to keep safe because kids can so easily mistake them for non-infused food. Younger children (and pets) are especially vulnerable because they are unable to read the THC warnings on cannabis packaging.  

Cannabis infused gummy bears, oil, and snack bites
Some cannabis edibles can easily be mistaken for infused candy and snacks.

Are cannabis edibles poisoning our kids?

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a report on cannabis edibles poisonings among children in Canada since legalization.  This study looked at the number of hospitalizations for kids 9 and under from accidental cannabis ingestion.  The data in the study tells us that the average age of a child who gets into their parents’ edibles is 3.6 years old.  68% of kids in the study were under 6 years old.

A graph showing the number of cannabis related hospitalizations among children from October 2018 to September 2021
There are significant differences in the numbers of poisonings reported between provinces that have legalized cannabis (AB, BC, ON) and those that haven’t (QC)

Knowing this, we can extrapolate that these poisonings are accidental, and not instances of kids looking to get high or see what weed is all about, which we might expect from older kids and teens.  And indeed, many cannabis edibles look and taste a lot like candy or other delicious snacks that kids can easily mistake for an uninfused treat. 

What the data doesn’t tell us is exactly how many of these poisonings are the result of illicit edibles, which are often packaged in fun, brightly colored containers that may not be child-proof or contain a THC warning symbol. We can consider Quebec’s reports as a proxy for unregulated edibles, since there are not regulated edibles available within that province. That gives us an idea that some of these reports come from illicit edibles.

A line graph showing the change in rates of hospitalization for unintentional cannabis poisonings in kids ages 0 to 9, from January 2015 to September 2021.

Are parents less likely to report poisonings when edibles are illegal?

A second thing we can’t fully know from the data is how much of the differences between Quebec and the rest of Canada are due to a reporting bias, since parents are more likely to report their child taking edibles in jurisdictions where they’re legally available.  In other words, parents in Quebec may be less likely to report edibles overdoses because products accessed there are more likely to be illicit.

We can see from the data that reports of edibles overdoses in kids increased from period 1 (when edibles weren’t yet legal) to period 2 (when edibles became legal, but still weren’t legally accessible).  In other words, parents felt more comfortable reporting edibles poisonings when edibles were legal, even though they were still reporting consumption of illegal edibles.  From this, we can draw the conclusion that parents are more likely to report the poisoning and seek help for their child in jurisdictions where edibles are allowed.  This means that the data is likely not capturing as many of the edibles poisonings in Quebec as in Alberta, BC, and Ontario (where they are legal).

What is the best approach to maintaining public health and safety?

Despite not having all the data, we can draw the conclusion that young kids are accessing edibles, regardless of whether they came from the regulated or unregulated market.  The 10mg limit on edibles isn’t protecting kids from accidentally consuming edibles.  Neither are the plain and child-resistant packaging rules, nor the marketing restrictions that require coverings on retail store windows and attempt to prevent children from ever seeing or hearing about cannabis. 

If regulators want to protect children from accidental consumption, a much better approach is to educate Canadians, including our kids, about cannabis.  When public health policies aren’t working to protect the public health, regulators need to change their approach.  By taking an education-focused approach, public health officials can help parents understand the risks associated with kids consuming cannabis and teach parents to take appropriate precautions when storing their edibles. They can also give kids (and parents) age-appropriate education about cannabis, who should consume it, and who should avoid it.

How do we keep kids safe around edibles?

Here are three things you can do to make your home safer:

  • Keep your edibles in their original container.  These have large THC warning labels and are child-proof (if you open and close them properly).  And while it’s definitely easier to open that pack of gummies with a pair of scissors, remember that you won’t be able to close it again. Follow the opening instructions on the package or ask your budtender for help.
A regulated cannabis edible package with a bright THC symbol on it.
Regulated cannabis is sold in child-proof containers with bright THC symbols on the packaging.
  • Keep your edibles out of reach of small children (and pets). They can’t read the THC warnings, so it’s best to prevent them from interacting with the packaging in the first place.  Using a locked container will provide an additional layer of safety for parents with more curious children. 
  • Talk to your kids about cannabis.  It’s never too early to start the conversation. Topics can include what they’ve heard from friends or classmates, portrayals they’ve seen in media, or what they have been observing about your cannabis consumption, perhaps without you even realizing it.  

How do I talk to my kid about weed?

When you want to start the weed conversation, first consider your own relationship with cannabis and your biases and perspective.  Be truthful and honest about your own experiences and admit when you don’t know something.  Kids want the truth, and we gain trust as parents when we can be a primary source of information.

A mother and daughter painting a ceramic cactus on a table

When it’s time to start talking use it as an opportunity to teach your kids how to think critically about information. Ask young kids if they’ve ever heard of cannabis, and what they know about it. They might surprise you with the knowledge they’ve picked up! You can ask who they think cannabis is for and whether or not kids should consume it.

For kids who are a bit older, you can mention news stories about edibles and ask them what they think. Ask questions like, “What do you think healthy cannabis use looks like?”  or “When do you think you’ll start consuming edibles?”  No matter what they say, stay calm and avoid judging or punishing them. You want to keep an open dialogue going.  Our kids are constantly getting more information and we can help them discern whether or not something is right for them.

A father and son sitting on a couch and talking

How can I keep my teen safe around edibles?

This recent study only looked at hospitalizations of kids under age 10. Keeping older kids and teens safe around edibles often requires more nuance than a simple “out of sight, out of mind” approach. Older kids and teens are more interested in experimenting with cannabis, so helping them make the right decisions for themselves requires open conversations about cannabis, how it works, and how it affects the consumer. Every family is unique, so your approach to cannabis will be unique too. 

A mother talking to her teenage son

If you learn that your teen is already consuming edibles, do your best to arm them with facts and information.  Help them understand the effects of cannabis on their growing mind and body and focus on harm reduction.  Abstinence-based approaches rarely work. Rather, they can drive teens to hide their cannabis consumption instead of having open discussions about it with their parents. You might also want to understand the reasons your teen is consuming and help them explore alternative options to achieve those outcomes.

Why Canada needs public cannabis consumption lounges

Why Canada needs public cannabis consumption lounges

Three people consume cannabis joints in a consumption lounge with windows
Consumption Lounges are places where people go to consume cannabis in its various forms. (Photo by Cannaclusive on Flickr)

In 2018, Canada became a world leader in creating socially responsible cannabis legislation, permitting adult recreational use for the first time. Yet despite this position, Canada has not yet created any regulatory framework for cannabis consumption lounges. One common critique of this government is that its restrictive policies actively prevent cannabis businesses from being innovative and profitable market leaders.  And in fact, some industry leaders believe Canada has already lost its first mover advantage in the global market because of the Canadian regulators’ intense focus on public health and safety to the exclusion of all else, including good business practices.

Cannabis is an historically stigmatized and misunderstood plant.  By disallowing public consumption and failing to offer clear and meaningful rules around consumption, the Canadian government has succumbed to stigma and ignorance. False starts at creating consumption regulations and legislation actively preventing public consumption have resulted in Canada falling behind other jurisdictions currently setting precedents for socially responsible and informed cannabis policies. 

A screenshot of the Ontario Public Consultation on Cannabis Consumption Lounges
Ontario conducted a public consultation around Consumption Lounges, but so far has not enacted any legislation.

Cannabis legalization in Canada is swiftly approaching its 4th birthday, and as the consumer and industry mature, regulations should also evolve to meet the needs of Canadians. If Canada regulated public cannabis consumption, it would provide important opportunities for relaxation, socialization and education among cannabis consumers, as well as provide economic benefit to both the cannabis and tourism industries.

The (recent) history of bars in Canada

People often compare cannabis to alcohol so thinking of how bars fit into our society is a good way to conceptualize how cannabis consumption lounges could fit in as well. Throughout history, bars have been a common place for people to find entertainment, relax, and socialize. 

After Canadian Prohibition ended in 1933, “beer parlours” became more common. There was no bar and patrons were required to sit at a table while they drank the single brand of draught beer available. Local laws usually didn’t permit food or entertainment like playing games or music, so they were strictly places where people consumed alcohol, and nothing much else happened there.

Four men and two bartenders stand inside an old-time beer parlour, a precursor to consumption lounges.
Beer Parlours were quiet places where patrons could drink beer and do little else. (Image source: LiquorRetailer.com)

Over the next 15 years as World War II swept across the globe, around 1 million Canadians served in the armed forces in the UK. While overseas, they became familiar with the UK’s public house traditions, including using the “pub” as a social gathering place for both men and women, and playing games like darts, snooker, or pool.

Over time, providing entertainment and serving food became more common as a way of preventing patrons from drinking to excess. (Image Source: LiquorRetailer.com)

As a result, the Canadian tavern became more popular over time, especially for working-class people. Today, bars entertain patrons with events like karaoke, dancing, live music, sports, show watching parties, speed dating, open mics, trivia night, and stand-up comedy.

Consumption lounges meet an important need for relaxation, socialization, and education

But unlike with alcohol, Canadians don’t have an indoor public place to go for socialization and entertainment while they’re consuming cannabis. Instead, they’re forced to gather in outdoor parks, private homes, or the occasional outdoor patio that a nearby cannabis retail store owner has managed to secure for consumption.  Just like people who drink alcohol, people who consume cannabis would prefer to have designated venues for consumption.  Socialization is a basic human need, and people are entitled to gathering spaces where they can talk, share ideas, be entertained, and relax in an environment that is enjoyable. 

3 women socialize at a table in a consumption lounge while rolling joints
Consumption lounges would fill the human need for socialization, a vital part of the human experience. (Photo by Cannaclusive on Flickr)

By failing to allow places for consumers to gather, Canadian regulators perpetuate stigma.  Opponents argue that providing legal spaces normalizes consumption, but in fact, that is exactly what legalization was supposed to accomplish. When places for consumption are integrated into society, people can regularly see cannabis consumption, understand what it looks like and how consumers behave, and understand how consumption fits into society. Beyond that, consumption lounges would provide a place for extensive consumer education by giving newbies the opportunity to consume alongside experts, access resources from established sources of education, and learn more about consumption methods, dosing, and safe consumption practices.

Spaces that allow on-site cannabis consumption would fill the same needs for cannabis consumers that bars do for alcohol consumers. These could take a variety of formats, including allowing smoking flower (like currently existing cigar lounges), allowing the vaping of flower and concentrates, or by consuming cannabis-infused products like edibles, beverages, and oils. Seasoned consumers know that mindset and setting are very important to the outcome of the overall cannabis experience. By offering legal places for consumption that are enjoyable, relaxing, and provide entertainment, regulators would be elevating the legal market over the illicit one by giving consumers something the black market never could: safe, regulated, and controlled spaces for cannabis consumption. 

The hands of two people as they roll a joint
Consumption lounges would provide places for people to socialize, relax, and learn more about cannabis and cannabis consumption. (Photo by Cannaclusive on Flickr)

Consumption lounges would help revitalize the Canadian tourism industry

Another reason to allow consumption spaces is the impact on tourism. Tourism plays an important role in the Canadian economy, generating revenue of nearly $105 billion in 2019. Approximately 10% of Canadian jobs support the industry in some way. But the industry has suffered greatly since the pandemic began and current spending isn’t even close to pre-COVID levels, as travel restrictions for both domestic and international visitors have led to a very slow recovery. By allowing consumption spaces, Canada would open up new opportunities for cannabis tourism and help the industry recover more quickly.

A graph showing tourism spending from 2017 to 2022
Tourism spending has not returned to pre-pandemic levels (Source: Statistics Canada)

Currently, companies are allowed to promote tourism to an extent, but consumers typically can’t smoke in most indoor spaces, including their hotel rooms, and in some locales, they are also disallowed from public consumption entirely. 

By changing the rules around cannabis consumption, the cannabis tourism industry could include all kinds of experiences, like cannabis-friendly hotel and Airbnb packages, retail lounges, spas, tours, trade shows, and events like festivals and comedy shows. 

People consume cannabis in outdoor consumption lounges
People enjoy consuming cannabis in many types of settings and venues. (Photo by Cannaclusive on Flickr)

Opening up consumption lounges would also revitalize areas with many dispensaries competing for consumer dollars.  Cannabis shops in saturated markets like Toronto’s Queen West could change their business model by converting to a consumption space,  pivoting to tourism-focused retail, and by finding ways to collaborate with nearby shops, rather than competing with them. 

Consumption lounge options: smoking, vaping, or edibles?

Arguments can be made for every level of access in recreational consumption lounges, including allowing smoking indoors. Most locales have laws preventing indoor smoking in public places. Cannabis is often unfortunately lumped in with tobacco in these laws, despite evidence that cannabis smoke is far less harmful than tobacco smoke. In the Netherlands, a country known for its successful integration of consumption lounges into everyday life, a smoking ban prevents people from smoking cannabis mixed with tobacco in coffeeshops, but people are allowed to smoke pure cannabis flower.

But even if smoking is disallowed, vaporizing flower and concentrates is a healthier option that doesn’t put employees and bystanders at the same level of risk. Unlike second-hand smoke, second-hand vapour doesn’t contain the tar or other carcinogens produced by burning plant material and paper, making it safer for people nearby. Allowing people to vaporize dried flower and concentrates in indoor could be a better option than allowing smoking indoors, especially for recreational spaces that aren’t necessarily for patients who prefer to combust their medicine.

A person adds cannabis oil to their beverage in a glass, common in consumption lounges; a lemon wedge is added for flavour.
Vaporizing cannabis and ingesting oils can be a healthier way to consume cannabis indoors. (Photo by Cannaclusive on Flickr)

But if there is not room for lounges that allow vaporization, certainly regulators can allow consumption lounges that offer infused foods and beverages. In Canada, consumption trends are moving away from flower, and toward products like edibles, beverages, and concentrates.  In 2021, fewer people bought flower than in the year before (down 6%), while the number of people who purchased beverages and edibles increased significantly (up 10% and 4%, respectively).

A graph showing the types of products consumed, by percent, from 2020 to 2021
The number of consumers consuming infused edibles and beverages is growing. (Source: Health Canada)

One critique of lounges for edibles and beverages is the waiting time required for the onset of effects. Nano-infused beverages allow for quick onset and duration of effects, avoiding the need to wait for hours while your edibles kick in.  And as consumers become more familiar with the dosing and effects of edibles, restaurants that serve infused food made on site can also be considered for regulatory inclusion. As the cannabis consumer matures, so too will the need for spaces that cater to different types of consumers, and different types of consumption. 

Consumption Lounges are an important part of the overall cannabis industry, and regulations around them must be enacted sooner, rather than later.

Skip to content