Even without definitive word on whether public consumption spaces for cannabis will even be allowed in Ontario, cannabis lounges have been opening up across the province in anticipation of the huge demand for them once cannabis is legalized.
Under Ontario’s proposed regulations, the only place you’re allowed to consume is at home, which creates many problems for people from all walks of life including renters, tourists, and parents. It only makes sense to provide these people with an alternate place to safely consume, much the same way we have bars for alcohol, and yet, cannabis lounges are having to fight for their right to even exist in Ontario.
If the government wants to keep cannabis away from kids, why are they forcing people to smoke in their homes?
One of the main reasons the government gave for legalizing cannabis in the first place was ‘protecting the children’, so how does it make sense to force people to smoke in their own homes- especially if there are kids around?
Cannabis lounges give people a place where they can go and consume around other adults, and the risks that a kid will get exposed to cannabis in one of these lounges are nonexistent- so why isn’t the government fully on-board?
Ontario already has several cannabis lounges- some that have been around for decades- that allow you to come in and smoke, vaporize, or otherwise consume, but it’s often more than just that. Cannabis lounges offer a place for community, where people can come and check out the culture, socialize, and even learn more about cannabis itself.
Cannabis lounges are already popping up all over Ontario
Cannabis lounges aren’t just a ‘big city’ thing. Lounges have opened up all across the GTA including in Ajax, Pickering and Hamilton, and going further afield, there’s Windsor, Penetanguishene, and Timmins, just to name a few.
Many of these lounges are focused on harm reduction and even promote the use of vaporizers over smoking because vaporizing is less harmful on the lungs than smoking.
Dispensaries vs. Lounges
One of the big differences between cannabis lounges and dispensaries that has kept the lounges out of law enforcement’s crosshairs is the fact that they do not sell cannabis. They’re strictly BYOB- but in this case, that last ‘B’ stands for ‘bud’.
Also, the police are less likely to go after the lounges because any possession charges that may arise from a cannabis lounge raid are less likely to stick.
Meanwhile, in America…
It’s worth noting that Colorado and Nevada, two states where recreational cannabis is already legal, are experiencing issues with overly strict cannabis consumption laws. Denver has taken the lead, being the first state in the U.S. to allow cannabis lounges although it comes with a few caveats- alcohol sales are prohibited and you must bring your own cannabis.
Marijuana Business Daily: Ontario slams door on dispensaries, but marijuana lounges see glimmer of hope.