One year into the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada and local investors are poised to cash in on cannabis tourism.

More than 140 Investors and cannabis-industry experts met for a first-of-its-kind cannabis tourism summit at Blue Mountain Resort called New Heights.

Jennifer Mason hosted the summit; aimed at bringing together business people and advocacy groups in or looking to enter the budding business.

“All that stigma stuff I think is going to go away because you’re going to see gourmet cooking experiences with cannabis and wellness,” said Mason.

William Sharpe is the man behind Lakeport Brewing Company; famous for its buck-a-beer product. Sharpe, and his team of investors, wants to turn cottage country green with cannabis experiences, opening what he calls a tourist destination park in Bancroft; set to open in the fall of 2020.

“It's going to explode. I can see it exploding in the market - not just for the tourism industry - but also just for the cannabis growers,” said Sharpe. “To be able to offer people to be able to come stay over for a period of days, to come and be able to enjoy hot tubs and saunas.”

Sharpe and the audience full of business leaders and entrepreneurs hope to grow Ontario’s $71-billion Tourism, Sport and Culture industry by adding marijuana to the mix.

David Brott started Culinary Cannabis Company in October 2018. Brott and his team of chefs teach audiences to cook with cannabis.

“I wanted to start something that was legitimate and legal, and something  useful and credible to rely on,” said Brott, while his chef cooked garlic parmesan capellini pasta using a cannabis strain called OG Tuna.

Despite success stories, industry insiders say the government's rollout and licence lottery system has slowed things down.

“We have the opportunity to actually become a country on the forefront and grow into industry that's going to be worth 100-billion-dollars by 2025,” said Noel Geer with marketing company Connected Interactive.

Frustrated entrepreneurs and customers complained of pricing and accessibility issues being at the core of the black market controlling the majority of the marijuana industry. Fewer than 25 licenced retail cannabis stores are open in Ontario; with none in Simcoe County, Muskoka or Grey County, where the summit was held.

Wendy Forwell, CEO of Cannabis Hotels, points to Haliburton’s Sir Sam’s Inn and Spa as being one of the first in the province to offer a cannabis-friendly stay for guests.

“Down in the U.S. where they’re building facilities and accommodations strictly for cannabis users, but you’re also going to see the mainstream incorporating it into your destination stay.”