pretty girl sitting in a cafe and hookah smokers use tablet

Cannabis cafes in British Columbia? Vancouver has had cannabis cafes for a while. And Canada’s West Coast is no stranger to cannabis-centric concerts and festivals. But will that soon all be legal?

The provincial government would like the public’s input. The government has launched a public consultation as they consider legalizing “cannabis consumption spaces.” The deadline for feedback is May 9th, 2022.

What are “Cannabis Consumption Spaces”

And do they include cannabis cafes in British Columbia?

Currently only authorized retail stores can sell recreational cannabis in BC. Onsite consumption is illegal. And that includes cannabis cafes. But the BC government’s “cannabis consumption space” will legalize lounges, cafes, and special events like concerts and festivals.

British Columbia is going to see more than cannabis cafes. The government’s discussion paper suggests a range of possibilities.

Including sampling experiences during a tour of a cannabis farm, cooking classes with cannabis extracts, a cannabis garden at music festivals, lounges that offer cannabis, food and entertainment, restaurants serving both alcohol and cannabis beverages, and spas and massage therapists using cannabis topicals.

But what about smoking?

Expect signs like this in cannabis cafes in British Columbia
Expect to see signs like this

Cannabis Cafes in British Columbia? No Smoke for You!

As exciting as it all sounds, at the end of the day, this is the British Columbia provincial government making the rules. They are very clear, “indoor smoking and vaping would not be allowed in consumption spaces.”

Sites must meet public health and safety objectives. Including “promoting responsible use” and reducing cannabis-influenced driving. Otherwise, legal consumption spaces are a no-go. The BC government is taking a phase-in approach. “This would allow regulators to learn about consumption spaces and use these experiences to inform decisions about whether or how to license other spaces,” says the discussion paper.

A Tourist Cash-cow?

Will cannabis cafes in British Columbia be a tourist cash cow? With no smoking or vaping in the cafes? With strict federal rules on the marketing and advertising of the industry? And with plain packaging restrictions? It’s unlikely it’ll be wildly successful in its first incarnation.

For, if you can’t smoke or vape in a cannabis cafe, what exactly are you supposed to do? Sit there for 3-4 hours sipping on a cannabis-infused latte? And as they say more than once in the discussion paper: “The Province is not considering permitting indoor smoking and vaping.”

Despite how 72.9% of cannabis consumption in British Columbia is via smoking. But the BC government is not interested in “re-normalizing smoking behaviour.”

However, outdoor smoking and vaping are being considered. Whether it’s “compatible with public health and safety goals” is up in the air for now. But one fails to see how any consumption site could be successful without at least permitting outdoor smoking and vaping.

The province expects to release a report next fall.

Footnote(s)

https://engage.gov.bc.ca/app/uploads/sites/741/2022/04/8711_Cannabis_Consumption_Discussion_Paper_PSSG_v5.pdf