Post-doctoral fellow Dr. Susan Dupej.
Post-doctoral fellow Dr. Susan Dupej

Canada could become a global leader in cannabis tourism, but that industry is being held back by unclear rules about legal cannabis consumption, says a University of Guelph researcher. 

Dr. Susan Dupej is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) post-doctoral researcher in the Gordon S. Lang School of Business and EconomicsSchool of Hospitality, Food and Tourism Management. She studies the economic and social impacts of cannabis legalization on Canada’s tourism industry. 

In a recent commentary for The Conversation Canada, she said Canada is well-placed to become a hot spot for cannabis tourism, which would help improve acceptance, normalization and tolerance. 

That tourism could include cannabis lounges, festivals and tours. For example, she said, cannabis producers could offer on-site tours, like at wineries and breweries, where visitors could learn about growing methods and how to taste and purchase the products.  

People want to do those things, Dupej said. But as she noted to the Calgary Herald, there’s still “so much stigma – so much fear” associated with it. 

Although cannabis is legal in Canada, regulations around its consumption and production vary by province and territory, she said. Most regulations focus only on private spaces rather than public spaces. While cities like Amsterdam offer pot cafes, none exist in Canada, which leaves many consuming cannabis in less appropriate places such as parking lots. 

A better approach would be to view the regulation of cannabis consumption “as an extension of the cannabis supply chain in Canada,” Dupej said. 

Businesses should be allowed to have licences to permit guests to consume cannabis on the premises, just as restaurants allow diners to consume wine and music festivals allow patrons to drink in a beer garden, she said. 

Ultimately, encouraging cannabis tourism would enable Canada to become “a global leader in setting an international precedent for socially responsible and informed policy,” she added. 

Dupej recently discussed cannabis tourism and regulations with The Growth Op. She is available for interviews. 

Dr. Susan Dupej