While it is perfectly acceptable to smoke weed in Canada’s newly opened medicinal cannabis lounge in downtown Windsor, patrons are being required to flick their ashes on the floor because health officials claim it is a violation of a local tobacco ordinance for the establishment to have ashtrays on the tables.
When Higher Limits opened its doors several weeks ago, owner Jon Liedtke did not realize that he was going to have to employ a full-time janitorial crew to keep the floors and tables of his cannabis lounge free of the charred remnants of once delicious bud. Although there is nothing written in the law that prevents marijuana from being smoked in copious amounts throughout this decadent parlor of pot, none of the reciprocal amenities commonly offered to smokers in places like bars and restaurants are legal to the clientele. Even a single ashtray inside the lounge could bring about hefty fines from local health officials and could possibly even lead to the place being shut down.
Other than designated smoking areas, it is against the Smoke-Free Ontario Act for anyone to “smoke tobacco or hold lighted tobacco in any enclosed public place or enclosed workplace.” The language of this ordinance, however, does not include any terminology that applies to the cannabis plant or the consumption of any of its derivatives.
In other words, there is nothing preventing patients certified under Canada’s medical marijuana program from lighting up in cannabis cafes, but cigarettes and other tobacco products are strictly prohibited.
Although it is nice that cannabis users have the luxury of social use inside the Higher Limits vaping and smoking lounge, Liedtke told CBC News that he desperately wants to work with local health officials to devise a reasonable solution to not being allowed to provide ashtrays for his customers. That’s because contrary to how one might envision a lounge that caters to the medical marijuana community, the customers who show up to his establishment come to get stoned, hangout with friends and take advantage of video games and pool tables. There is even some discussion about bringing live music into the mix.
So, it is not like patients are stepping into the lounge for a few minutes just to medicate before going home and jumping into bed. In this pot palace, the nation’s medical marijuana community comes to party in a manner that is not dissimilar to the Happy Hour stylings of the American drunken class.
When Higher Limits gets crowded, it is conceivable that the constant marijuana ash and the lack of available ashtrays becomes a problem in maintaining the cleanliness and comfort of the lounge. Basically, Liedtke wants his customers to have a good time, but he is not too keen on having his business consumed by their ashes.
"Hopefully we can work together to seek a resolution on it and if they're not willing to do that then we'll have to investigate some other options, which might mean meeting with the Ministry of Health," Liedtke said.
Health officials say it is possible they will work towards drafting new regulations that cover medical marijuana consumption “in public places and workplaces,” but there is nothing being considered at this juncture.
(Photo Courtesy of the National Post)