Ontario considers legalizing cannabis lounges and cafes

However, there are still details to hammer out – chief among them the fact that smoking and vaping cannabis is prohibited in indoor public places

Vapor Central cannabis lounge in Toronto.

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The Ontario government is taking steps to close a major gap in cannabis legislation.

On Monday, the province announced it will be holding consultations to offer members of the public the chance to weigh in on two proposals.

The first is to allow “the sale of cannabis for consumption in establishments like lounges and cafes.” The second is to create “cannabis special occasion permits.” Consultations will take place until March 10.

If the government does follow through on vape lounges, it would make Ontario the first jurisdiction in the nation to put in place a framework to guarantee cannabis users safe places to get high in public.

Cities and towns in Ontario all make their own bylaws around smoking and vaping in public. They also have the power to limit smoking up in private dwellings leaving lots of people like renters with nowhere to use cannabis.

The government says it’s launching consultations “in order to provide consumers more choice and convenience on cannabis while giving the private sector enhanced ability to compete against and combat the criminal market.” The government’s consultations are also to “explore certain expanded cannabis-related business opportunities.”

Those opportunities could include cannabis coffee shops, similar to Amsterdam, vape lounges, which were common in Toronto prior to legalization, or edibles cafes, which have caught on in California.

However, there are still details to hammer out. Chief among them is the fact that smoking and vaping cannabis is prohibited in indoor public places and other designated areas under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act.

And according to their online feedback form, the province does not intend to make changes to the Act. So, if vape lounges are going to be legalized, there will inevitably be some hoops to jump through.

The government is not offering specifics. It says that it is simply opening itself up to public suggestions. “No changes to the cannabis framework are expected at this time nor is there a current timeframe for any additional changes that may be informed by this feedback,” they note.

But the government does appear to see opening consumption lounges as the next logical step in legalization.

“Ontario continues to take a responsible approach to cannabis retail sales across Ontario, allowing private sector businesses to build a safe and convenient retail system to combat the illegal market while keeping our kids and communities safe,” said Attorney General Doug Downey in a statement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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