Ontario might have Amsterdam-type cannabis smoking lounges

As the provincial government keeps working on a system for both distribution and sales, the people of Ontario are presented with the opportunity to voice their thoughts on cannabis lounges.

Most provinces have not yet signed a supply agreement for their recreational cannabis markets, including the 4 biggest by population, Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta.

Seeing how the legalization date is creeping up, the question of where will consumption of cannabis in Ontario be allowed will be answered by the public through an online survey.

Residents of Ontario will have the opportunity to weigh in on the idea until March 5.

Since Ontario’s government has decided to completely monopolize the distribution and sales of recreational marijuana, we can only assume that Ontarians will have several creative ideas which could shake up the system.

Call it little Amsterdam

The provincial government of Ontario has sent out a feedback request to the public which is centered around many big regulatory changes, one of which is the question of establishing “licensed and regulated cannabis consumption lounges and venues”.

Abi Roach, the owner of Hotbox Cafe, says that she has been reaching out to the government for well over 6 years on this issue, and even appeared before a legislative committee examining the provincial government’s pot laws last year.

Roach argued that limiting consumption solely to private residences makes little to no sense to those that have people that don’t smoke living with them, and even the community around.

“In an urban setting you have to take into consideration your neighbours,” Roach said. “Maybe your neighbour has children. Maybe they’re not really into it. Maybe your neighbour has respiratory issues. There’s no real consideration there for your community.”

So far, there are seven similar locations to Abi’s Hotbox Cafe which allow smoking within their premises. They all have thousands of customers monthly and they ID every single one to check that the age of those going in is at least 19.

None of the 8 lounges around Toronto do not sell cannabis to their visitors, as visitors are urged to come with their own supply for smoking, but only within the legal limit.

Perhaps Toronto will become the Little Amsterdam of Canada with an addition of a couple THC-infused lounges around the town?

Consumers don’t want to do business with criminals

Nobody wants to be on the wrong side of the law, and thus people in Canada don’t want to do business with criminals.

Roach said that one of the reasons why the federal government underwent this whole process is to push out the black market and weed out street dealers.

She thinks that a regulatory environment will help achieve that goal.

“People who are in the cannabis business do not want to be criminals,” she said. “Cannabis consumers don’t want to do business with criminals. In reality, we all want to be licensed.”

She added that she believes that the government shouldn’t attempt to open cannabis lounges like it intends to do with standalone pot shops.

Toronto councilor Jim Karygiannis thinks that private-run cannabis lounges would be a great solution to the problem of public consumption.

He also added that private cannabis lounges must be regulated one way or another, otherwise it would turn to a complete “wild, wild west.” as he said.

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