The mayor of Canada’s 23rd largest city has some thoughts on Denver

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The 16th Street Mall. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) 16th street mall; sixteenth street; central business district; downtown; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty; denverite; cbd;

The 16th Street Mall. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The mayor of Canada's 23rd most populous city has some thoughts on Denver.

With legalization in Canada expected on July 1, 2018, Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens told the Windsor Star about what he saw on a recent visit to Denver.

Dilkens was impressed by the rules and regulations he saw in force at a marijuana shop, though he swears to the Star that he has never tried the drug.

"But it was what he saw out on the street, in an otherwise attractive section of downtown Denver, that left him rattled and deeply concerned about what’s in store for Windsor, especially its core," Star columnist Gord Henderson wrote.

"Instead of mellow hippies and flower children with daisies in their hair, he found himself in the midst of intimidating throngs of lowlifes."

He's talking, of course, about the fact that groups of young, largely male and often homeless people congregate around the 16th Street Mall. Our own mayor has memorably called them a "scourge of hoodlums."

Here's how the mayor of Windsor put it: “The riff-raff and the undesirables were rampant. I was looking behind my back as I was walking because some of these people truly concerned me. These were very aggressive people."

This, for Dilkens, is an argument against legalized marijuana. A couple complicating factors: First, there hasn't actually been a spike in crime rates on the 16th Street Mall since legalization. While police told me that there are more young and homeless people, and there have been high-profile incidents, the number of violent crimes on Denver's main boulevard has stayed essentially the same each year since legalization.

Also, perhaps more importantly: Canada is legalizing weed across the country. That means that you wouldn't expect an individual city to draw a disproportionate number of marijuana users, whereas Denver is one of just a few large cities where weed has been recreationally legal in the U.S.

In short, I don't know anybody who's planning a big weed consumption trip to Windsor – but the country may well run into some of the illegal export troubles that Colorado faces.

Update: Actually, as a Windsor resident pointed out to me, I missed a big factor in those last couple paragraphs: the potential for border crossing. Windsor's within minutes of Detroit. Detroit has legal medical marijuana, and voters decided in 2012 to decriminalize small-scale marijuana possession, but the city does not have legal recreational pot dispensaries. All that could create an incentive to head to Windsor for weed.

I had figured people would be afraid to bring weed across the border – but, even so, people could cross from Detroit to partake or even to stay for extended periods of time.

So, the mayor's concerns about attracting more people to Windsor may have more to do with Americans than Canadians, and specifically the relationship between Windsor and Detroit. My apologies for whiffing on that one.

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