Pubdate: Wed, 15 Apr 2015
Source: Guelph Mercury (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Metroland Media Group Ltd.
Author: Troy Bridgeman
Page: A3


Public response to the opening of the DLR 420 Vapour Lounge downtown
where patrons can go to smoke marijuana in a cafe setting speaks
volumes about how much public attitudes have changed about pot since I
was young.

I heard about the lounge, like most people, from a story published
earlier this month in the Mercury. Only then did I realize the person
behind it was Guelph merchant Tony Veder.

I bumped into Veder downtown at Planet Bean just after the story
broke. He told me he had been doing his best to dodge newspaper and
television reporters who were trying to track him down for an interview.

He said he had planned to open the lounge quietly and maintain a low
profile, allowing word of mouth to spread among medicinal and
recreational blazers. He was hoping to avoid the kind of
sensationalist coverage that often accompanies stories about marijuana
activists. His biggest concern was that reporters would try to make
him look foolish.

I told him if he changed his mind about doing an interview to call me
and I would treat him fairly.

A couple of days later, I received a text inviting me to visit the
lounge. When I arrived, the doors were locked and there were two young
guys waiting out front. They asked if this was the 420 lounge they had
heard about. The windows were papered over and a handwritten cardboard
sign hanging in the window read "DLR 420 Vapour Lounge." Below that
the words "opening soon" were scribbled out and replaced with "Open
Daily 12-12."

Within minutes, Veder arrived on his bicycle and opened the door. The
two young men followed us in. Veder asked to see their identification
and determined they were both over 18.

They each paid $5 for a daily membership and took a seat at a corner

The interior of the former clothing store was sparsely decorated. It
was, as Veder explained, a work in progress. Chairs of varying styles
and comforts surrounded an assortment of coffee tables. The walls were
decorated with Dutch flags and the types of posters you would expect
to see in a head shop.

In one corner was the retail counter where only weeks earlier I had
watched my daughter and girlfriend pay for clothes. An assortment of
bongs and vaporizers were now on display waiting to be used by lounge
patrons. On another counter was an assortment of chocolate bars,
candies and chips.

The two young men told me they had never been in a lounge like this
and thanked Veder for providing the service. I asked if they would
agree to a short interview and photo after I finished talking to Veder
and they both enthusiastically agreed.

Veder rolled a joint and smoked it as we talked. He told me he lived
in Amsterdam 20 years earlier and modelled his lounge around the
marijuana coffee houses he used to go to there. He said attitudes
about marijuana were much more relaxed in Amsterdam and he hoped that
his lounge would help remove the stigma associated with marijuana use
and relax people's attitudes here.

"There is no better place in this province than Guelph for something
like this," he said. "This is a very educated community that cares and
it is a wonderful place to live in general."

Veder said he doesn't expect his patrons to create the same problems
for police as some of the neighbouring bars and he will not allow
alcohol or drunkenness on the premises.

"There are no drunk people allowed," he said. "It ruins our

He said he has received overwhelming support from people in the
community, but that is yet to translate into memberships.

After interviewing Veder, I went back over to talk to the two young
men. They told me they had changed their minds about the photo and
interview. They were too high.
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