Canada: City Called Upon To OK Cannabis Lounges

Ron Strider

Well-Known Member
Provincial rules limiting recreational pot use to private property aren't going to work in the City of Toronto where people are more likely to rent or live close to each other, a cannabis lounge owner says.

Abi Roach, a director of the Cannabis Friendly Business Association (CFBA) and owner of Hotbox, plans to ask a city committee Monday to license cannabis lounges.

The Ontario government recently unveiled its new regulations for recreational marijuana, expected to be legalized next year, that include sales only through LCBO-affiliated stores and strict limits on where the product can be consumed.

Roach said confining cannabis use to private property might work in a rural setting, but the restriction makes no sense in an urban environment like Toronto.

People are unlikely to want to smoke pot in the same home with their children or an elderly parent, especially in smaller dwellings, she said.

Hundreds of thousands of people who rent their homes, many in shared accommodations, will not be permitted to use marijuana on the property, she said.

"You try and find an apartment on Craigslist that has smoking allowed," Roach said. "Then there are the 1.5 million tourists who come to our city every year and are going to expect legal cannabis, they're going to buy it, and they're going to go to their non-smoking hotel rooms."

The solution would be to allow licensed cannabis lounges where people could use the product, and be introduced to safer consumption methods – such as vaping – without exposing neighbors to smoke, she said.

Roach argued the government has combined the restrictions that currently apply to tobacco and alcohol into an even stricter regime for marijuana.

Unlike alcohol drinkers, marijuana users will not be able go into a public bar-like setting to consume the product.

Tobacco users can smoke on public sidewalks and open outside spaces, but not recreational marijuana users, she said.

"Cannabis consumers are now being hit as if we're demons," she said.

The City of Toronto Licensing and Standards Committee meets Monday to consider staff recommendations on cannabis legalization.

The report recommends City Council endorse the province's plan for government-run pot stores and seek input on where those retail outlets are located within Toronto.

"This model is preferred as it is a stronger regulatory mechanism than a private retail model, and would allow the province to closely oversee the operations of retailers and ensure that they operate in a responsible and accountable manner to uphold public health and safety," the report says.

Council should also ask for financial support to enforce the prohibition of cannabis sales at the non-sanctioned pot dispensaries that have popped up all over the city, the report says.


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