How legalizing marijuana will affect restaurants

As of this past Wednesday, October 17th, 2018, the sale and consumption of cannabis and cannabis products, a.k.a. Marijuana, a.k.a. weed, a.k.a. reefer (you get the point), was made legal in Canada.

Close up of a young hipster smoking cigarette.

How is that going to affect the restaurant industry, servers, and bartenders?


Firstly, I want to state that I am pro the legalization. I don’t smoke it nor enjoy consuming any of the derivative products, but I do believe that having a legalized industry will greatly reduce the power from drug dealers and crime syndicates.


The reality is that a lot relating to this multimillion-dollar industry is still a mystery. The government and the police don’t know themselves the full extent of the effect to legalizing cannabis.


As of now buying, consuming, possessing and growing it is legal under certain circumstances, but there are no established amounts for safe consumption.


What we know so far is that the provinces will have authority on creating their own by-laws, as it’s done regarding the beverage alcohol industry.


The sale will be done exclusively online at first, via each province’s devoted organization. In Ontario, the Ontario Cannabis Store’s website – – is the place to go. The site also claims to be awaiting legislation for the creation of brick and mortar stores as of April 1st, 2019.


The distribution or we should say delivery, will be done via the Canada Post services throughout the nation.


And no safe amount was defined if you want to smoke and drive/operate heavy machinery.


You can get more information on the Federal Legislation, Ontario’s Legislation or watch this summarizing video done by the CBC following these hyperlinks.

How does the Cannabis legalization impact restaurants and alcohol service?


Service-wise though, not much changes for us, since the law considers a person that has consumed marijuana to be intoxicated regardless of the amount. The argument that some people get drunk with a couple of beers and that for some it takes six, won’t apply in this case.


What is probably going to happen is that establishments will be turning down service to a lot more people until they get used to the fact that you can’t smoke and drink, unless you’re at home. Especially since Ontario has banned smoking inside or near restaurants, event out on the patio.


If we’re abiding by the law, which we all should be, we have the obligation to deny service to any individual that is already intoxicated. We also must ensure that an intoxicated person is not going to drive, whether we have served them alcohol or not.


The law, in fact, states that it’s the restaurant’s duty that a person who is intoxicated does not enter the licensed premises.


The Ontario Courts have ruled that. “…a tavern owes a twofold duty of care to its patrons. It must ensure that it does not serve alcohol which would apparently intoxicate or increase the patron’s intoxication. As well, it must take positive steps to protect patrons and others from the dangers of intoxication.

– extract from (9021) You and the Liquor Laws :A Guide for Liquor Sales Licensed Premises (2018/01)


I can see many business owners indulging their clients and allowing service for some well-behaved patrons, but that means risking their licenses (personal and the establishment’s), risking their livelihoods and their employee’s, and (in some cases) risking peoples lives.


Unfortunately for restaurants and bars, those checks will be smaller every time a patron chooses to smoke instead of having a drink.


Unfortunately for cannabis smokers, the ability to “get high” and go out for drinks will be impaired.


On the good side, customers can feel free to come to eat their favorite “munchies killers”, as long as they don’t sit at the bar, have a non-alcoholic beverage and take an Uber.



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