B.C.’s coveted role as the only same-sex wedding destination in the Pacific Northwest might go up in smoke this week.
Washington is poised to legalize both same-sex marriage and marijuana when voters hit the polls in the presidential election Tuesday, moves that could make competition tougher for B.C.’s legal wedding tourism and illegal weed-growing industries.
More than half of registered voters plan to say yes to same-sex weddings (57 per cent) and weed (56 per cent), according to a poll conducted by the University of Washington from Oct. 18 to 31.
Hundreds of Americans have wed in B.C. since the province legalized same-sex marriage in 2003, said Angus Praught, owner of GayVan.com Travel Marketing. The new law could impact tourism if couples from Seattle decide to marry at home, Praught said.
“At the same time, we’re a really great place for a honeymoon,” Praught said. “I think affirming civil rights anywhere is a positive step in the right direction.”
Local businesses will just have to get more creative marketing to couples south of the border, added Mark Robins of GayVancouver.net.
The marijuana measure would allow the drug to be grown by licensed farmers and sold with 25 per cent sales tax to those older than 21.
If it passes, it could have a “serious impact on the marijuana industry in B.C.” because Washington is a “significant market for our goods,” said Rob Gordon, SFU’s director of criminology. People in Washington would adopt B.C.’s growing techniques and buy the American product, which could cut B.C. producers from the market, he said.
“B.C. bud will become Washington bud,” Gordon said.
It will be easier for Washington to export marijuana to other states since the drug won’t have to cross an international border, Gordon said.
“I hope it wins,” he said, noting that the federal government will have the power to quash the legislation even if voters approve it. “I see no virtue at all in continuing with a failed policy of prohibition.”