Ont. changes threaten cannabis lounge

Busi­nesses see more harm than good as con­sump­tion ar­eas are re­stricted

Windsor Star - - FRONT PAGE - DALSON CHEN [email protected]­media.com Twit­ter.com/WinS­tarChen

There could be big trou­ble in the fu­ture for Wind­sor’s first cannabis va­p­ing lounge — and it’s com­ing di­rect from the pro­vin­cial govern­ment.

The Min­istry of Health and LongTerm Care an­nounced Thurs­day it will pro­pose leg­isla­tive changes meant to “strengthen (On­tario) smok­ing laws to bet­ter pro­tect peo­ple from se­cond-hand smoke, whether from a to­bacco prod­uct or med­i­cal mar­i­juana.”

Among the sug­gested re­vi­sions to the Smoke-Free On­tario Act: pro­hibit­ing the use of e-cig­a­rettes and smok­ing and va­p­ing of med­i­cal mar­i­juana in all en­closed pub­lic places, en­closed work­places and “other spec­i­fied out­door ar­eas.”

That means it would be­come il- le­gal for med­i­cal mar­i­juana users to smoke or vape at down­town Wind­sor’s Higher Lim­its. The lounge at 251 Ouel­lette Ave. opened less than two months ago for the ex­plicit pur­pose of of­fer­ing med­i­cal mar­i­juana li­cence hold­ers a safe place to par­take of their pre­scribed med­i­ca­tion.

Jon Liedtke, co-owner of Higher Lim­its, said he was dis­ap­pointed by how the min­istry’s an­nounce­ment con­flates med­i­cal mar­i­juana with to­bacco prod­ucts. “I think that’s lack of education. I think that the peo­ple who are writ­ing the laws don’t know any­thing about the sub­stance,” Liedtke said.

Liedtke pointed out that to­bacco prod­ucts are not al­lowed at Higher Lim­its, and the es­tab­lish­ment’s va­por­iz­ers are ap­proved by Health Canada as med­i­cal equip­ment. “They can’t tell peo­ple where and when to take med­i­ca­tion,” Liedtke said. As an ex­am­ple, Liedtke said one of his pa­trons lives in pub­lic hous­ing. “Un­der the pro­posed changes, he wouldn’t be able to take his med­i­cal mar­i­juana at home. He wouldn’t be able to take it at my place of busi­ness. He wouldn’t be able to take it at a pa­tio, on a side­walk, in a park. Where is he sup­posed to con­sume his med­i­ca­tion?”

The changes would put even fur­ther re­stric­tions on e-cig­a­rettes. The list of places where the devices can’t be sold would be ex­panded, rules would be set on how e-cig­a­rettes can be dis­played and ad­ver­tised, and there would be no test­ing of e-cig­a­rettes where they’re sold.

But Don Carom, owner of eci­garette store VapeVine at 2184 Howard Ave., said he was ex­pect­ing such mea­sures. He con­sid­ers VapeVine to be a retail shop rather than a lounge, and his main con­cern is that the pro­posed changes would make it harder for walk-in cus­tomers to make in­formed choices.

NICK BRANCACCIO

Jon Liedtke is dis­ap­pointed by pro­posed changes to pro­vin­cial reg­u­la­tions that may hurt his Ouel­lette Av­enue busi­ness.

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