Recently, the Ontario government have announced that private establishments like vapour lounges that offer a safe space for cannabis users to consume cannabis, are at risk of getting shut down. With upcoming legalization and cannabis use on the rise, Abi Roach, owner of the HotBox lounge in Toronto, had a few words to say to the Province.
Good afternoon, my name is Abi Roach owner of Hotbox & director at the CFBA
To put this simply from the top…
The private dwelling consumption scheme the Province of Ontario is planning to roll out, is simply
NOT feasible for the most Ontarians.
In the city of Toronto alone, condominium & shared dwelling households represent over 50% of the housing market and rapidly growing across the province.
28% of all Ontarians rent their homes
90% of which are none smoking…
where is, “in your home cannabis consumption” supposed to occur?
Currently Ontario is home to over 3 million regular cannabis consumers (22%-25% of the population) this number is said to grow to 39% after legalization in 2018. That will be over 5 million regular consumers.
Are parents expected to smoke marijuana in their homes with their children in the next room?
People living with the elderly or those with respiratory issues?
Are Landlords expected to allow cannabis smoke in apartments that have no cigarette smoking rules?
And will this take into consideration neighbours, roommates and others living in close proximity to units occupied by a cannabis consumers?
We then have to consider the vast tourism market, millions of tourists visit our beautiful province every year.
Many more will come simply to enjoy what they would expect of “legal cannabis”.
Where will these tourists consume their cannabis? In their non-smoking hotel rooms?
People who live in urban centres simply do not have the luxury of private outdoor space.
Our parks and streets, and worst of all cars! will become the consumption spaces
IF cannabis lounges are forced to lock their doors.
Not due to lack of respect for the rule of law, but simply out of necessity.
In common sense terms, this consumption ban will only encourage and lead to bad public health and safety policy and personal decisions.
The province already has a solution for canna-consumption in existence.
We are home to 7 cannabis lounges which each, serve an average of 10,000 cannabis adult 19+ consumers per month (and yes all lounges ask for ID at entry).
Cannabis lounges have existed in Ontario primarily in Toronto, since the opening of HotBox in 2003.
When Ontario’s Cannabis laws fell the first time, On Friday, May 16, the Ontario Superior Court upheld the lower court ruling, concerning a case of pot possession in Ontario.
Since 2003, Ontario has not seen a lounge explosion.
Currently none of the lounges dispense cannabis and all operate on a bring your own basis.
The Lounges do offer the free use of vaporizers, a far superior and safer consumption method to smoking.
They also provide education as well as offering a social setting. Which is amazingly beneficial to our medical consumers. Many of whom are seniors, veterans, the disabled & those suffering from debilitating chronic pain and ailments.
In 2012, MLS conducted its own investigation into Cannabis Lounges.
The issue of licensing cannabis lounges had been brought to the city of Toronto , at which time a report was prepared and presented to the Licensing and Standards Committee.
Staff Report for Action – Vapour Lounges – Medical Marihuana
It was determined that cannabis Lounges provide a safe space for patients to medicate and cannabis consumers to congregate.
“Allowing these establishments to be properly licensed will ensure that the City respects the rights of the individuals who are legally permitted to consume marihuana for medical purposes, while ensuring that public safety and community order concerns are addressed.” – MLS 2012
Furthermore, the Toronto Police Services has stated:
“Though medical marihuana users are entitled to possess and consume their marihuana
at home or at vapour lounges, the TPS believes there should be restrictions on smoking
marihuana, including for medical purposes, in outdoor public spaces. “
Toronto Municipal Licensing, Toronto Police Services, The Federal task force for Bill C45 and the general public have all stated the need, want and necessity of cannabis lounges to exist.
I implore the Province to create a realistic and functional framework, that will encourage safe consumption, while protecting the public health and safety needs of its citizens.