Pubdate: Sat, 16 Aug 2014
Source: Packet & Times (CN ON)
Copyright: 2014 Orillia Packet and Times
Author: Sara Carson
Page: A1


In Business: Medical marijuana lounge opening downtown

A medical marijuana vapourization lounge is opening in downtown Orillia.

Chad McInnes, owner of The Vape Lounge, described the 97 Mississaga 
St. E. business as a place for people to socialize and medicate.

"We're helping people not sit around in the park and get arrested for 
something they shouldn't be. They can come and be at ease," McInnes 
said Friday.

The inside of The Vape Lounge looks like an "over-exaggerated living 
room," McInnes said.

It has tables and chairs, couches and a bar where customers use and 
rent vapourizers, bongs and other devices for using marijuana. Snacks 
will also be for sale.

"It's the same as how people can go to the bar and get together," 
said Ryan Sypher, a staff member at the business. "It's a spot for 
people to be social, to be able to medicate and not have to worry 
about offending anybody else or getting into legal trouble for just 
doing what they need to do."

Out of courtesy to the downtown and for the privacy of its lounge 
customers, McInnes is subletting nearly 400 square feet of space at 
the front of his unit to a clothing store called One Love. From 
outside on Mississaga Street, passersby will just see a clothing 
store, he said.

Also, McInnes has always wanted to have space available for local 
artists to sell their wares, which is what the shop is specializing in.

"There's a lot of local artisans who just have nowhere to sell their 
stuff other than festivals," he said.

The Vape Lounge will have an entrance inside One Love and will have a 
back entrance.

The medical marijuana users "... don't want to be viewed by their 
peers because they have the worry of what their co-workers or their 
employers are going to think about it," Sypher said. "They don't want 
to be seen as a junkie or a druggie when all they're doing is just medicating."

Ralph Cipolla, chair of the Downtown Orillia Management Board (DOMB), 
is concerned with the image the business will project on the city's downtown.

"From a personal point of view, I don't think it's necessary for that 
kind of business to be within downtown Orillia or any downtown," he said.

Cipolla said that type of establishment should be located beside or 
near a hospital.

"My personal opinion is that the city really needs to look at 
business licensing - not that we want to curtail private enterprise, 
but to be able to say, 'OK, this does not meet the community's 
requirements as a safe place to shop ...'" he said.

He said he has received "quite a few emails" from merchants who are 
upset a vapourization lounge is opening downtown.

"That's why we've dealt with it. We've turned it over to the city. 
We've also informed the police what type of business was going on," he said.

The DOMB is meeting Tuesday to discuss The Vape Lounge and to 
determine if the board should investigate and act on options to 
discourage that type of business downtown.

"... They need to decide as a board, 'Is this something that we want 
to encourage ...?" said Lisa Thomson-Roop, manager of the DOMB.

When told about the DOMB's concerns, McInnes noted he has to clean 
"puke and urine" off the business's front step almost every morning.

"What imagine does the DOMB not want to portray? They don't clean it 
up. That's what they're paid to do, is it not? To clean up the 
street?" he said.

Mayor Angelo Orsi said he is not concerned with The Vape Lounge as 
long as its follows laws.

"I would assume that it meets all the provincial regulations or 
federal regulations," Orsi said, adding it must also meet city bylaws 
if applicable. "So long as it meets it, then what can I say? It is what it is."

Orillia OPP Const. Jim Edwards said The Vape Lounge will be patrolled 
by the OPP like all others.

"By all means, I would say we would be entering that business just to 
make sure the business is aware that we're around ... as we do with 
all downtown businesses. I can't say that we would be going in there 
more often than any other business," he said.

The Vape Lounge has "strict rules" around what goes on inside. All 
customers have to bring their own medical marijuana. Customers cannot 
sell, buy or give away marijuana. The business does not sell or 
provide marijuana.

The is video surveillance inside One Love, inside the lounge and at 
the business's rear entrance.

McInnes is working with two lawyers to ensure all laws are followed, he said.

The business does not serve alcohol, does not have a liquor licence 
and will not be applying for one, McInnes said. Customers cannot 
smoke tobacco inside the lounge.

Employees include an addictions counsellor and individuals who hold 
CPR certificates, McInnes said.

Simcoe Holistic Health, Simcoe County's medical marijuana resource 
centre in Barrie, will set up a satellite office inside The Vape 
Lounge. Simcoe Holistic Health helps patients through the process of 
receiving medical marijuana prescriptions.

A carbon filter air-cleaning system will ensure the marijuana smell 
will not leave the establishment, McInnes said.

Sypher noted education is important. Vapour lounges are not illegal 
and they are not trying to hide their business, he said.

"If people have any questions or concerns, come in and stop by (when 
the business opens)," he said.

Sara Lauer, a media relations officer with Health Canada, said the 
governing body does not have rules around where medical marijuana can be used.

Those authorized to possess medical marijuana no longer hold cards. 
To find out if someone if allowed to possess the substance, that 
person's commercial producer needs to be contacted, Lauer noted.

If police go inside the lounge, they can ask anyone who is possessing 
marijuana to prove he or she is legally allowed to, Edwards said.

"If they don't produce something, then they're under arrest and the 
onus would be on them to produce or let Health Canada tell us that 
they have a licence to have it," he said.

The Vape Lounge is not obligated to ask people if they are allowed to 
possess medical marijuana, Lauer said.

The owner "is at liberty to ask for it. The person can show him or 
not. It's their call," she said.

Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, is pushing to 
decriminalize marijuana.

"There is this whole movement across the country where people want 
marijuana legalized because it's not cocaine, it's not any of these 
hard drugs that people are dying from,"

Sypher said, adding marijuana is a medicine.

McInnes, who also owns The Pot Shop on Albert Street, noted he is an 
active member of the community.

He is a member of the Mariposa Folk Foundation and volunteers with 
the Orillia Spring Blues Festival and the Orillia Beatles Celebration.

Toronto has six vapourization lounges.

"If Orillia really wants to advertise itself as a tourist 
destination, as a progressive city, this is something they should be 
on board with because it's going to happen somewhere in Simcoe 
County. Why not Orillia?" Sypher said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom