Toronto's Expo Center Now Features a Built-In Weed Sesh Spot
Located inside the city-run expo center, the "Cannabis Carnival" has yet to open, but its arrival underlines the importance of places to toke in public.
Published on June 25, 2022

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A restaurant located on the grounds of Toronto’s nearly 150-year-old Exhibition Place has opened a province-approved designated area for smoking cannabis, according to CBC News. The spot has an adorable name — Cannabis Carnival — and is full of sculptural cupcakes and those bed-framed lounge things you tend to see next to swimming pools in Los Cabos.

We’ll take it! The importance of public places to consume cannabis should not be underestimated. Without approved smoking spots, individuals who do not own property or are not allowed to consume on their rental property — not to mention the unhoused — are left vulnerable to cannabis policing even in places where recreational marijuana has been legalized. 

Cannabis Carnival is associated with Grand Bizarre, a 67,000-square-foot supper club with three infinity pools that has been likened to Gatsby’s mansion. Other features that Grand Bizarre has put out for stoners appear to be a game of Twister, giant decorative lollipops, and a divine amount of shady spots for reclining mid- or post-toke.

Given its swanky location, Cannabis Carnival likely won’t be open to the weed-consuming public. Its arrival, however, did give many cannabis advocates a chance to opine on the importance of opening more spots like these.

"It's mostly beneficial for the consumer of cannabis, who, even though we've had legalization, was kind of forced to consume behind the dumpster," said president and CEO of the Cannabis Council of Cannabis George Smitherman.

Smitherman linked such spaces to tourism development, and he’s certainly not the first one in the marijuana industry to do so. Las Vegas has been the site of the most development linked to cannabis consumption sites — not surprising for a town that welcomes some 32 million visitors a year, who mainly stay in hotel rooms that are barred by state law from being 420-friendly (or any kind of smoke-friendly). Such plans in Sin City have mainly taken the shape of cannabis lounges, where people can buy their weed on-site and enjoy it there with a non-infused snack or non-alcoholic beverage.

Grand Bizarre president Zlatko Starkovski commented that the space fits within the regulations of the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, and that Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the state-run Ontario Cannabis Store are “educational partners” in the project.

"I think cannabis smokers in general need a safe, responsible place to smoke when they go out," said Starkovski. "There are a lot of people smoking at home, in cars and potentially over-consuming so we're taking a proactive approach for cannabis smokers now that it's been legal since 2018."

As journalist Amanda Siebert noted in an article published in April by Leafly, amendments to the Smoke Free Ontario Act actually had the effect of closing down already-existing indoor consumption area options for cannabis users. Torontonians do have some options for places to puff, however. HotBox Café, which has been open since 2000, is a licensed dispensary that features a “potio” that the business calls “Toronto's first consumption lounge.”

Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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