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

City CouncilCity of Victoria

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

Just Posted

Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre to host a trio of acts

Aaron Pritchett, Alex Cuba and Valdy will each play four shows

Pacific Opera takes music to the streets

Artists travel around Capital Region District this summer for live performences

SKAMpede goes live in July

Beloved annual event returns with changes, pre-registration online

Victoria Flamenco Festival goes virtual for 2020 event

The show will go online from July 23 to 26

Campbell River teen produces quarantine musical

Ryver Santos Cegnar performed for friends and family over Facebook

Nanaimo Art Gallery summer camp moves programming online due to COVID-19

Teenage artists have until the end of next week to apply to Dazzle Camouflage

Symphony pop-up concerts coming to central Vancouver Island

Only 40 tickets available for each Vancouver Island Symphony private backyard show

Courtenay theatre gets support for livestream ‘hybrid’ shows this year

Island Coastal Economic Trust funds help Sid Williams Theatre with infrastructure, training

Virtual film industry career fair offers chance to talk with the experts

Experts in 11 different departments, three film union representative will be in attendance

Victoria Classic Boat Festival cancelled due to safety concerns

Organizers say Inner Harbour doesn’t provide enough space for physical distancing

Infringing festival finds a way to dance during pandemic

Nanaimo’s Crimson Coast Dance Society holding drive-in, micro and physically distanced events

Coastal scenes at the forefront for July shows at Victoria galleries

From sculpture to landscape paintings, summer art is about nature

Most Read