Manitoba considering allowing restaurants, spas to sell pot products

Two years since recreational use of marijuana was legalized across the country, Manitoba’s cannabis authority is exploring the possibility of providing licensing to allow businesses like restaurants and spas to offer cannabis products.

The Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority of Manitoba is launching numerous campaigns geared toward gauging the interest of businesses and consumers in expanding the availability of cannabis products.

As part of the initiative, the LGCA is working with Leger, a market research and analytics firm, to survey a sample of Manitobans about authorizing licensed cannabis consumption spaces.

Read more: First new Manitoba cannabis retailer since restrictions loosened set to open

“This is really an exploratory process, so we’re trying to understand if Manitobans want these types of businesses to be available in our province and that’s why we’re out there asking them these questions right now,” says Kristianne Dechant, LGCA’s executive director and CEO.

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After a gruelling summer for the restaurant industry, business owners like Sachit Mehra at East India Company Pub and Restaurant seem to be chomping at the bit for any chance to boost profits.

Sachit Mehra, co-owner and manager of East India Company Pub and Eatery, said that given what’s going on right now in the economy for restaurants with the current pandemic, he’s looking for “anything that provides an edge or certainly some kind of instigator or reason for people to come out to those restaurants.” Mehra said.

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The new licensing plan was announced on Friday, but so far, it seems not every industry that qualifies for the licence is interested.

Tricia Weidenbacher, executive director of the Massage Therapy Association of Manitoba, said providing products like cannabis is outside of the scope of association members’ practices.

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“When we practise outside of scope, it affects our ability to have liability insurance and that could impact massage therapists in a different way, so I don’t see it changing in the near future.”

Read more: Ontario government considers cannabis lounges, cafes as part of future open market

At East India Company, owner Mehra believes an additional step needs to be taken before businesses begin offering a selection of goodies.

“It might be helpful for restaurants and hospitality, even the end consumers, where we could introduce maybe an infused drink, cola or soda, or whatever they have inside the product and what that does is it allows a slow introduction of the product to not only a retailer but certainly to the consumer as well,” Mehra said.

The LGCA is calling the process “exploratory” at this point, with licences not expected to available for months or even years.

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