The creation of cannabis lounges in Victoria, after marijuana is legalized this fall was discussed at yesterday’s city council meeting. File photo

Cannabis lounge idea to be floated at Victoria council meeting

Coun. Ben Isitt wants to explore smoking area options for marijuana users after legalization

As the legalization of marijuana nears, the City of Victoria is exploring the idea of cannabis lounges, modelled after a pilot project in Denver.

A motion being introduced by Coun. Ben Isitt will be discussed by councillors at their Aug. 9 meeting. It requests City staff to look at local clean air regulations and compare them with the situation in Denver, where cannabis lounges opened after the state legalized marijuana.

“Now that it’s going to be legal in two-and-a-half months, there are questions of where it’s appropriate to consume the substance, particularly for people who can’t use it in their homes,” said Isitt, who is also a Capital Regional District director. “Some may think they can go outside, but with CRD regulations, we have pretty strict rules with the Clean Air Bylaw.”

The bylaw mandates that no one can smoke or vape any substance within seven metres of a door, on a patio, or any public spaces including playing fields, playgrounds and public squares.

If Isitt’s motion passes, staff would report back to council in the fall and advise whether the City should move forward with the plan.

ALSO READ: In a haze: Impairment measurements unclear for cannabis and driving

While owners of detached homes can smoke on or inside their own property, renters and owners of townhouses and condominiums are restricted by landlord and strata rules.

“There’s a certain unfairness that only people who own their own [single family] homes can consume it [on the premises],” Isitt said. “It makes you ask, ‘should people be permitted to consume it in a social setting?’”

While hundreds of restaurants, bars, lounges and private clubs across Greater Victoria allow for alcohol consumption, currently none of these establishments would be able to accommodate cannabis smoking due to the CRD bylaw.

Isitt noted that new provincial regulations ban cannabis use in workplaces or indoors – the same as for smoking cigarettes – but he suggested a possible work-around could be to establish cannabis patios set back from sidewalks, streets and neighbouring windows. “A good option would be a downtown space with a courtyard where employees wouldn’t have to provide support in that area,” he said. “Maybe somewhere with a self-serving food or coffee station.”

While the close proximity of buildings in Victoria’s downtown core wouldn’t allow for many cannabis lounges meeting these specifications, Isitt is hopeful that new buildings and businesses outside the core could be established.

“I think there are a number of potential sites, and we’ve just got to figure out what the rules should be,” he said. “The advantage of a pilot project is rules can be implemented on an interim basis.”

ALSO READ: Cannabis back on the table at Esquimalt council

With cannabis shifting from a black market substance, to a grey market, to completely legal, Isitt doesn’t anticipate a large jump in use, but he would like to see more options available for cannabis users.

“It will create a stronger desire to consume the legal substance in a legitimate way,” he said. “We should have reasonable regulations on where that could be consumed, as well as the option of regulating a kind of business in a controlled way, excluding minors and keeping workers safe.”

nicole.crecenzi@vicnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vic High alumni named Victoria’s new Youth Poet Laureate

Neko Smart, the founder and coach of the Vic High slam poetry team, will serve a one-year term

Dance Victoria: The Trocks are in town!

Dance Days 2020 performance roster includes two powerhouse presentations

Pacific Opera Victoria exec member earns major honour

Yvette Guigueno to attend prestigious OPERA America leadership program this month in New York

ALLAN REID: Like fresh food? Find it in Cook Street Village

Hawaiian-inspired Poke Fresh offers right raw food combination for Monday reviewer’s liking

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Winners announced for inaugural Victoria Arts Council/Monday poetry contest

More than 100 entries received in five categories

Canadian polar bears’ ‘ingenious’ survival seen in BBC Earth series

Film crews also go to Tofino to watch black bears snap up crabs under massive boulders

Spring author’s reading series kicks off early in Sidney

Sidney and Peninsula Literary Society hosting Yasuko Thanh and Carla Funk for Feb. 7 event

The winners of London Drugs’ 2019 Amateur Photographer of the Year contest are…

After more than 26,000 entries, the winners have been selected across Western Canada.

‘How to Train Your Dragon’ filmmaker Dean DeBlois among Canadian Oscar nominees

Multiple Oscar-nominated Canadian talents on Academy Award hopefuls list

Most Read