It is now legal to light up in Windsor's American neighbour, but cannabis advocates are not expecting much of a change.
Recreational marijuana became legal in Michigan as of 12:01 a.m. Thursday, after voters last month approved a statewide ballot measure to make the Wolverine State the tenth in the Union to allow the consumption of pot for recreational purposes. Medicinal marijuana has been legal in Michigan since 2008, when it also was approved by statewide voters.
While there are differences in cannabis laws between Ontario and Michigan, Jon Liedtke, co-owner of Higher Limits in Windsor and a fervent supporter of legal marijuana, tells BlackburnNewsWindsor.com that rather than set up competition, it will enhance the already rich cross-border releationship between Detroit and Windsor.
"If anything, this is something that we can use to promote cross-border tourism," said Liedtke. "We know that we have people who come to the region because of our wine trails, because of our bike trails, because of our great distilleries."
Liedtke, who has been highly critical in the past about a lack of a "pot tourism" strategy once cannabis was legalized across Canada in October, said he is not expecting that much of a change now that Michigan is in the weed industry, particularly since Windsor's bars have attracted American 19 and 20-year-olds for years.
"What it will establish here is the same thing that Windsor downtown has had for a very long time, and that is it's 21 years old who can consume cannabis in Michigan once you're able to get it, but it's only 19 here in Ontario," said Liedtke.
One of the differences between Ontario and Michigan is that while cannabis sales are now allowed online in Ontario, public sales in Michigan will not take place for at least a year, since the state must now set up a structure to regulate pot sales. This will be overseen by the state's Republican-led legislature and their new Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, after the new term begins January 1.
Other differentiations include Ontarians being allowed to grow four plants in their private residence for their own use, while in Michigan, people will be allowed to grow 12. Michigan will allow anyone 21 and over to be in possession of up to 71 grams of cannabis, while the limit in Ontario is 30 grams. Public consumption in Ontario is only permitted where cigarette smoking is allowed under the Ontario Smoke Free Act. Michigan will not at all allow consumption in public, near schools or on federal property.