Pi­o­neer­ing pot lounge closing at end of De­cem­ber

Windsor Star - - CITY+REGION - DALSON CHEN [email protected]­media.com

Just un­der three years since it opened, down­town Wind­sor cannabis lounge Higher Lim­its is closing its doors.

The owners of the busi­ness at 251 Ouel­lette Ave. an­nounced it will cease op­er­a­tions at the end of De­cem­ber.

“It’s a shame — but it’s hap­pen­ing,” Jon Liedtke, co-owner and spokesman for Higher Lim­its, said on Fri­day.

“I lay the blame en­tirely at the feet of the Doug Ford gov­ern­ment,” he added.

Liedtke said the de­ci­sion to close is the re­sult of “in­cred­i­bly un­for­tu­nate” changes to the Smoke Free On­tario Act. Ac­cord­ing to Liedtke, the new leg­is­la­tion treats med­i­cal cannabis con­sump­tion via com­bus­tion or va­por­iza­tion in the same man­ner as tobacco con­sump­tion — il­le­gal in pub­lic ar­eas. Liedtke said the Wind­sor-Es­sex County Health Unit has no­ti­fied and warned Higher Lim­its that all em­ploy­ees and cus­tomers are li­able to be tick­eted if it re­mains open.

“We have done our damnedest to help to de-stig­ma­tize med­i­cal cannabis usage in the com­mu­nity. But, un­for­tu­nately, the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment is mov­ing for­ward with what we be­lieve to be an un­just and un­con­sti­tu­tional move,” Liedtke lamented.

Higher Lim­its opened in Jan­uary 2016, billing it­self as the first cannabis vape lounge in Wind­sor and the largest of its kind in Canada. The goal was to pro­vide a “safe place” for med­i­cal mar­i­juana users — two years be­fore Canada made recre­ational cannabis le­gal, and in the ab­sence of any mu­nic­i­pal reg­u­la­tion on cannabis busi­nesses. Along with of­fer­ing en­ter­tain­ment events such as pizza com­pe­ti­tions and com­edy shows, Higher Lim­its has been a cen­tre for cannabis ad­vo­cacy, with Liedtke of­ten weigh­ing in on cannabis-re­lated pol­i­tics.

Liedtke em­pha­sized that the busi­ness is not closing due to fi­nan­cial rea­sons. He said Higher Lim­its has seen 125,000 pa­trons over the past three years and has re­mained “cash flow pos­i­tive.” He’s also proud of hav­ing hosted ap­pear­ances by mem­bers of the Trailer Park Boys cast, the Jack­ass crew, Su­per Troop­ers, and Kenny vs. Spenny.

“We are a busi­ness that is an anom­aly,” Liedtke said. “We were do­ing shows that had never been done be­fore in Wind­sor.”

“It’s frus­trat­ing to have to shut down when ev­ery­thing was go­ing right.”

Part of Higher Lim­its’ busi­ness is sell­ing cannabis-re­lated para­pher­na­lia, such as va­por­iz­ers and glass smok­ing ware.

The es­tab­lish­ment will hold a closing sale on its mem­o­ra­bilia, re­tail stock and en­tire equip­ment in­ven­tory from Dec. 27 to 30.

DAX MELMER

The Higher Lim­its Cannabis Lounge on Ouel­lette Av­enue is to shut down be­cause of changes in the Smoke-Free On­tario Act.

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