Why pot-smoking tourists may have a tough time lighting up on P.E.I.

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The Tourism Industry Association of Prince Edward Island says visitors hoping to smoke cannabis on the Island this summer may have a tough time finding a place to do it legally. 

As it stands, it's against the law on P.E.I. to smoke pot in public. It's left up to the owners of tourist accommodations to decide whether to allow guests to light up in their private rooms or in designated areas outdoors on their properties. 

CEO Kevin Mouflier said many owners he's heard from have decided not to allow pot to be smoked anywhere. 

"It's back to the [fact] that a lot of travellers do not like smoking period," said Mouflier. "Whether it be cigarette smoke or anything, they want to have that clean feeling of no smoke in the rooms or public areas."

'It should be legal at our site'

Some tourism operators are taking a different approach. 

Isaac MacPherson, the owner of Brackley Beach North Winds Inn and Suites, said while guests aren't allowed to light up in their rooms, smoking is permitted anywhere outside, as long as it's at least 4.5 metres (15 feet) from the building. 

"If it's legal in Canada, it should be legal at our site in my opinion," said MacPherson. "People should have a spot to smoke their cigarettes, drink their alcohol, and smoke their marijuana."

Many Island campgrounds appear more open to marijuana as well. 

P.E.I. provincial parks and Parks Canada both allow campers to smoke it at their individual campsites only.  

Some private campgrounds contacted by CBC said they've set the same rules. 

Designated public areas the answer? 

But Shaman Ferraro said that still leaves a lot of Island tourists with nowhere to light up. 

Ferraro owns Gocanna — an Island company that helps guide tourism businesses looking to understand the laws, and to capitalize on the new legal cannabis industry. 

He thinks the provincial government would be smart to create designated public areas where pot smoking is allowed. 

"[Without that], we might see people in Victoria Park, we might see people at the beaches using cannabis because they don't have a place to go. And we don't want that exposure to youth. That's not part of the federal objectives of legalizing cannabis," said Ferraro. 

Back in October, then Liberal finance minister Heath MacDonald, said designated consumption areas would be the "next phase" of the legalization process on P.E.I.

A spokesperson for the finance department said this week that "government continues to monitor the impact of our initial policy decisions in order to identify any needs, issues or gaps."

Moufflier, with the tourism industry association, said at this point he hasn't heard concerns from visitors with nowhere to smoke cannabis. 

"But it's early," he said. "Having a full summer ahead of us, then getting feedback from operators if there is any concern is really critical."

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