Article by Jenna Valleriani and Abi Roach
If you’ve been following the plans for cannabis legalization across Canada, one of the key concerns is not just how it will be sold, but where exactly people will be allowed to consume cannabis.
Not in parks, or in the streets, certainly not in restaurants or even in places where there are existing tobacco allowances. In Ontario, the proposed legislation boils down to this: the only place we can consume legal cannabis will be in the privacy of our homes.
While the Ontario government has not shut the door on safe cannabis consumption spaces, more commonly referred to as vapour lounges, they also have indicated no real movement on the issue, at least for now.
While coming at this issue from different experiences – one of us has owned a cannabis lounge for 15 years in downtown Toronto, and the other researches cannabis policy – we do agree that the exclusion of any allowable spaces aside from one’s home is not only a matter of public health, but ultimately tied to larger issues of social justice.
If Ontarians are only able to consume in their homes, then what about those who rent, are under-housed or homeless, live in apartments, condos, social housing or live in a home they simply don’t own?
Does this include patios, balconies and backyards? Landlords, in many cases, will almost certainly prohibit indoor consumption, and condo boards and social housing regulators have been rushing to update their rules and policies around this issue, typically focused on extending restrictions to legal cannabis. This also has had important implications for legal medical cannabis patients.
Additionally, what about parents, who may occasionally like to responsibly consume cannabis but have children at home? Are we really going to demand they only use cannabis inside their homes?
Licensing and regulating vapour lounges should be prioritized as safe and responsible policy, creating places that adults can visit, bring their cannabis and use it safely.