It’s been nearly four years since cannabis was legalized in Canada and B.C. is now looking for folks to weigh in on whether cannabis consumption spaces should be allowed in the province.
An online survey was launched by the province on April 6. The survey asks residents how they would feel about allowing cannabis consumption spaces like cafes and lounges. It also asks how people would feel about allowing the sale and use of cannabis at festivals and concerts, as well as if restaurants and theatres should be permitted to sell cannabis beverages and edibles, or whether to allow cannabis treatments at spas.
“We have heard from cannabis businesses that consumption spaces could provide an opportunity for the sector to become more economically viable and could better meet the interests of people who use cannabis,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “At the same time, others have raised public health and safety concerns, which will need to be carefully weighed. We want to hear the views of all British Columbians so they can help shape how B.C.’s cannabis sector continues to evolve.”
The province said that if indoor consumption spaces are allowed they will need to align with provincial public health and safety objectives. This means that indoor smoking and vaping likely won’t be allowed.
Smoking indoors is banned in all indoor public spaces including workplaces, restaurants and bars across B.C. and most of Canada. The laws prohibiting indoor smoking were designed to mitigate the health risks of second-hand tobacco smoke.
But Dana Larsen, a prominent cannabis and drug policy reform activist, said that indoor smoking lounges are what cannabis smokers want.
“I’m not sure what’s stopping people from consuming edibles indoors now,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a big demand for indoor cannabis-eating lounges. They should be allowed of course, but the unwillingness to allow cannabis smoking is going to continue to be a problem.”
Prior to legalization, several “compassion clubs” in Vancouver and around B.C. allowed people to smoke cannabis indoors. Larsen said many of the lounges had good ventilation and provided a space for both medical and recreational users to smoke when they couldn’t smoke anywhere else.
“A lot of people can’t smoke cannabis in their homes, especially if they live in an apartment or a condo. Many can’t smoke in their own house because their landlord doesn’t allow it. We’re not supposed to smoke outdoors or in parks. So there’s no place for people to consume cannabis.”
British Columbians have until May 9, 2022 to submit their responses to the provincial survey. Residents also have the opportunity to submit written feedback.
The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General will use the feedback from this engagement to prepare a What We Heard Report. That report will be published in fall 2022.