Victoria councillor wants to explore idea of cannabis lounges for public use
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Wednesday, August 8, 2018 6:43PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 8, 2018 6:44PM PDT
A Victoria city councillor is hoping to clear the air when it comes to people smoking marijuana in public once it's legalized later this year.
Coun. Ben Isitt is pitching the idea of safe smoking spaces in response to strong limits on cannabis use within the Capital Regional District.
"There's a number of people in the community who can't consume cannabis in their homes because of the terms of their rental agreements or strata council rules," Isitt told CTV News Wednesday.
With smoking also being banned in bars, restaurants and workplaces and regulations on outdoor use, Isitt says people need options.
"Cannabis is going to be a legal substance in Canada in two months, so the motion is proposing that we turn our minds to the question of where is it appropriate to consume?" he said.
He'll put forth a motion at a council meeting Thursday to suggest the city looks south for possible solutions.
"The motion doesn't propose any answers. It suggests that staff look at the city of Denver, Colorado's pilot program," Isitt said.
Since 2017, Denver has been allowing existing businesses to apply for permits to green-light marijuana consumption on-site.
But even though 9,000 businesses are eligible to apply in the Mile-High City, none have, and city officials think there's a few reasons why that is.
"Under state law, those businesses can't sell marijuana. So that coffee shop, yoga studio, barbershop would just be telling their customers come in and bring your own and consume, so there's no sort of economic incentive," said Ashley Kilroy, Denver's Executive Director of Marijuana Policy.
Kilroy said smoking on liquor-licensed premises is also not allowed, and the city has also heard from tenants who say their landlords just don't want the substance smoked on their properties.
Back in Victoria, the city would face similar jurisdictional hurdles, according to Isitt.
"Theoretically, if all the other levels of government refused to work with the city to develop appropriate regulations, it could hit a road block," he said. "Then it would become an advocacy issue to call on those other levels of government to be reasonable."
Businesses like Victoria's Terp City Canna Lounge, which gives people a place to use marijuana indoors, are among those hoping for a day where taking a hit at an establishment is legal.
"It's getting people to come to a place that's not actually pissing anybody off," said lounge manager Rachael Lawson.
Isitt's motion will be discussed at an Aug. 9 council meeting.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in June that marijuana will be fully legalized across the country on Oct. 17.