City of Victoria Orders Cannabis Lounge to Close

The day after the City of Victoria received its first rezoning application from a cannabis dispensary since voting in new bylaws to govern the businesses, The Green Ceiling received a cease and desist letter, ordering the cannabis lounge to shut down.

A letter delivered to the business yesterday by police and bylaws officers informed Green Ceiling owner Ashley Abraham that she had until 11 pm to close her doors or face fines for staying open.

“As of Sep. 22, 2016 the cannabis related business regulation bylaw has been adopted and under section six a person carrying on a cannabis related business must not c) allow a person to smoke, vape, consume or otherwise ingest cannabis or products containing cannabis on the premises,” read the letter. “Be informed that under the cannabis related business regulation bylaw number 16-061 operating a buses without a valid license carries a fine of $1,000 per day and allowing on-site consumption is $500 a day.”

This morning at 11 a.m. authorities returned to give Abraham a ticket for $500, which she said she’ll be disputing.

Abraham said while the letter came as a surprise, she has always expected that she would have a run-in with the authorities at some point.

“I didn’t open this lounge thinking there wasn’t going to be a bit of a push-back, I knew this was coming, we’re approaching our six-month mark,” she said, stating that the threat of fines won’t scare her into shutting down.

“I provide a space that a lot of people need, that a lot of people access on a daily basis and I’m not going to stop doing what I’m doing,” she said.

While the majority of dispensaries in the city have shut down all on-site consumption to not risk running afoul of the new rules, Abraham said her first priority is continuing to provide a safe space for medical users.

Abraham said the reason she opened the lounge was in response to an elderly patient who wasn’t allowed to consume medical cannabis in her own home and was forced to smoke in the street.

“There’s so many people in Victoria who live in housing situations that aren’t able to consume cannabis where they live – condos, low-income housing, roommate situations, people who have children, people with spouses who don’t like cannabis, all of these people who aren’t able to consume cannabis in their own home have a space with lounges,” Abraham said. “The idea that they want to take that away from people, it enrages me.”

Abraham has opened up a petition that she hopes to present to the city to show support for the shop, and is also planning a public demonstration outside of City Hall on Oct. 20, to remind officials what public consumption looks like when the city doesn’t allow lounges.