Step foot into any bar or college dorm across the continent tonight and you’ll almost certainly see two things: the first U.S. presidential debate being screened for all who dare to watch it, and a whole lot of alcohol (possibly being consumed through a series of debate-inspired drinking games).
A Canadian cannabis lounge - Higher Limits - is offering an alternative. A more elevated alternative.
The medical marijuana lounge in downtown Windsor, Ontario, is opening its doors for marijuana-loving residents (along with those who simply identify as ‘canna-curious’) to take in tonight’s televised spectacle in the company of cannabis.
If they’re feeling up to it, they can even participate in the lounge's own version of a debate drinking game, substituting alcohol with – well, you know.
Whether that means lighting a joint every time Donald Trump mentions the wall or whenever Hillary Clinton’s health is brought up, Higher Limits co-owner Jon Liedtke is hoping to bring some calm and contemplation to his particular audience this evening - something that wouldn't happen while downing shots of alcohol in the same way.
“I know that the way I typically enjoy a political debate is by lighting up and trying to chill out because it can get a bit stressful, [particularly] these days,” Liedtke told Civilized about part of the inspiration behind the event.
“There are going to to be all of these drinking games happening all over the continent, and no one is going to think twice about it because it’s so normalized...so while people are getting blackout drunk, we’ll be getting a little high, and at the end of the night everyone will be able to get up and walk out of the place with their wits about them.”
While Liedtke admits that part of the event is definitely about “making a mockery out of the mockery” that has been this year’s election season, it’s also about continuing to chisel away at the stigma surrounding medical marijuana and cannabis use as a whole.
“People think [of cannabis consumers] as stoners lighting up a joint and watching Cheech and Chong with a bag of chips, and that’s not the case at all,” said Liedtke.
“By doing an event like a presidential toking game, while we’re poking the issue a little bit, we’re still promoting a healthy lifestyle… [one that can involve] enjoying cannabis and taking part in a very serious event.”
The event will also provide an opportunity for cannabis consumers to discuss the election and its implications across the border, said Liedtke, since the outcome of the U.S. election will impact all North Americans in a big way. Following the debate, Liedtke is opening up the floor for patrons to engage in a thoughtful discussion – something he surmises is a lot easier when you swap alcohol ("it fuels aggression") with cannabis.
“Because the election does have a big impact on us as Canadians and us as medical marijuana users… and Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton have very different opinions about what needs to be done with cannabis, what we’re trying to do is bring that to the forefront for our audience and have a little fun, as well,” said Liedtke.
“We want people to feel free and open to talk about whatever they want, to use cannabis in a community space where they feel comfortable talking about these issues. We’re as eager as anyone else to see how this debate goes."