Ontario may allow licensed cannabis consumption lounges for recreational users, but the province is asking for public opinion first.
The proposal follows London's selection as one of the first 14 Ontario cities to establish stand-alone cannabis stores by July 2018.
Beyond the stores, these cannabis lounges are intended to serves as spaces where recreational cannabis users can smoke safely in designated cafes or lounges.
The proposal stemmed from amendments to the Cannabis, Smoke-Free Ontario and Road Safety Statute Law Amendment Act 2017. Among these amendments, “permitting licensed and regulated cannabis consumption lounges and venues," has been suggested, with the government seeking public opinion through Ontario’s Regulatory Registry.
Abi Roach, the owner of Toronto’s Hotbox Café & Lounge, has been running her cannabis lounge for over 18 years. While she doesn’t sell cannabis in store, she considers her business a “hemp shop” that sells lifestyle products, and consumers can visit the lounge to recreationally use cannabis.
Roach says that she wants to see her store regulated and licensed like any other business.
“The whole purpose of the Hotbox from the start was to allow for the normalisation of cannabis to the point of legalisation, and now that legalisation is here, the next step is to be a normal business,” said Roach.
Roach is an advocate for the proposal, and supports the idea that cannabis lounges can create safer options for cannabis users. She says that the lack of accommodation promotes individuals to use cannabis in cars, leading to drug-impaired driving.
“I think having lounges close to public transport helps a lot. If you look at the growth of cities right now, particularly city centres, that’s where lounges are particularly key and important,” said Roach.
Alison Goodman, a third-year media, information and technoculture student said the idea sound reasonable.
“There would have to be certain regulations, but it sounds like it could work. if [cannabis] is going to be legal, there should be certain measures put into place so that people can safely enjoy it.”
The province is accepting feedback on its proposals until March 5. Comments can be submitted through the Ontario Regulatory Registry website.