Pubdate: Wed, 24 Jan 2018
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2018 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jacquie Miller
Page: A3


Watson voices concern about promoting smoking and putting workers at

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says he won't support creation of cannabis
lounges in the city, an idea being floated by the provincial
government as the country heads toward legalizing recreational pot.

"As the former Minister of Health Promotion, Mayor Watson does not
want to make it easier for people to smoke any substance, including
cannabis, in lounges," said a statement from Watson's office. "This
would also put the health of workers at risk by inhaling second-hand

The province has asked the public to weigh in on the idea of lounges
as one solution to the dilemma of where people will be allowed to
consume cannabis. Ontario passed legislation that prohibits consuming
marijuana in public, essentially forcing people to light up at home.
Critics point out that people who live in apartment buildings and
condos that ban smoking will have no legal place to smoke pot.

Last week the province said it will consider allowing both cannabis
lounges and smoking/vaping areas outside multi-unit buildings such as
apartments and condos.

Cannabis activist Lisa Campbell says both ideas make sense, although
she considers it a "miracle" the government suggested them. Both the
federal and provincial governments have taken a conservative, cautious
approach to legalizing pot.

Illegal lounges have operated for years in Toronto, Campbell said.
Customers bring their own marijuana. She said she dreams of licensed
lounges that would sell single servings of cannabis, like serving
alcohol in a restaurant or bar.

Campbell, who co-organized a series of pop-up markets in Toronto that
sold cannabis products, is part of coalition trying to make cannabis
lounges and a demand for privately-run pot shops issues in June's
provincial election.

The Liberal government is vulnerable, she warns, because of the
"political optics" of its drug policies. "You can go to a safe
injection site to inject heroin, but you can't go to a lounge to smoke
a joint?"

However, Campbell expects public-health bodies will oppose the idea of
cannabis lounges. Opponents see lounges as a step backward after
decades of progress to ban smoking at work and in public places.

It's a terrible idea to create enclosed indoor spaces where people
will be exposed to second-hand marijuana smoke or vapour, said Andrew
Noble, a program manager at the Non-Smokers' Rights Association. "It
would almost be as if the government is going out of its way to create
indoor, enclosed spaces that are potentially toxic.

"And these places won't run themselves. This will be somebody's

Another problem is that many pot smokers mix tobacco with their
marijuana, Noble said. It would be difficult to prevent customers from
doing that in lounges, he said. "You can say, 'Oh, well, we aren't
going to allow that.' But how are you going to police it? Are you
going to inspect everybody's joint?"

There have not been extensive studies on the dangers of secondhand
cannabis vapour, he said. But allowing designated outdoor smoking and
vaping areas would be a better alternative than lounges, he said.

Ottawa's Public Health unit has taken the position that smoking or
vaping cannabis in public should not be allowed. "OPH is committed to
protecting the public from the second-hand effects of cannabis use,"
the unit said in a statement.

However, Public Health officials said they are studying the provincial
regulations proposed last week and will comment on them "based on the
analysis of best evidence from other jurisdictions."

U.S. jurisdictions that have legalized recreational marijuana while
banning its use in public places have experienced the same challenges.

In Colorado, where pot has been sold in stores since 2014, there have
been problems with residents and tourists congregating in alleys and
parks to surreptitiously smoke pot, said Sam Kamin, a professor of
marijuana law and policy at the University of Denver.

Denver has led the way in the U.S. with a pilot project to allow
bring-your-own marijuana social clubs. One coffee shop has applied for
a licence to allow patrons to vape and consume edible cannabis,
according to the Denver Post's cannabis website.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt