Cannabis lounges will not be part of Toronto’s legalization framework, despite pleas from local activists.
On Monday night, Toronto’s municipal licensing and standards committee opted to follow the Ontario government’s lead in limiting cannabis to government-run locations. The committee voted 4-1 to deny businesses the permits to allow for cannabis consumption and to support harsher penalties for businesses that allow it to take place on their properties.
Abi Roach, the owner of Toronto’s HotBox Café cannabis lounge, made an appeal at the meeting for businesses like hers to be regulated.
“The city of Toronto is a city of renters, a city of people who live in shared dwellings, now more than ever,” Roach said.
“These people cannot consume in their rental units, they have children, they have elderly people living with them.”
In response, city councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker said cannabis consumption should be treated no differently than cigarette smoking.
“We don’t allow it in commercial establishments, we don’t allow it in offices, we don’t allow it in restaurants so any person who smokes a cigarette or cigar today could give me the exact same argument. If you want to smoke marijuana, smoke it in the privacy of your own house,” De Baeremaeker told reporters.
Mayor John Tory told CP24 on Monday that there are many unanswered questions when it comes to cannabis lounges.
“The whole concept of some place like that (pot lounges) that’s licensed like we do with alcohol was something that we should listen to these representations on,” Tory said.
“Only because the provincial government is the one that has said that you can’t smoke marijuana here and you can’t smoke marijuana there because it’s smoking.
“I’m in favor of legalization, I’m in favor of strict rules that limit access to young people and that make sure that neighbourhoods are kept safe from all these pop-up dispensaries that are all over the place.”
Earlier this month, Ontario announced its plans for the federal government’s rollout of cannabis legalization next July. The province will have cannabis sold and distributed to those 19 and older through standalone stores governed by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario.
Forty of these stores will be open by next summer, with 150 slated for 2020. Provincial officials also committed to closing all illegal cannabis dispensaries over the next 12 months.
h/t CP24 News