The Ontario government has launched an online consultation to consider facilitating cannabis consumption spaces and special occasion permits that allow sales in locations such as lounges and cafés.
The announcement stated that the government is seeking “the public, businesses, health and other stakeholders to comment on potential new cannabis opportunities, including consumption venues and special occasion permits for events such as outdoor festivals and concerts.”
Buried in the consultation document was a line that the provincial government is not considering changes to the province’s anti-smoking Smoke-Free Ontario Act.
As pointed out by industry lawyer Trina Fraser, this could limit the consultation’s results quite a bit.
So this really limits the scope of the proposal, including consumption on outdoor restaurant/bar patios.
— Trina Fraser (@trinafraser) February 10, 2020
While the province prohibits smoking and vaping cannabis in indoor public places, it currently places no such prohibition on other consumption methods, such as eating edibles. So, while there’s nothing barring an edibles consumption lounge from currently opening up, this process may lead to a more “official” licensing designation for such places and permit on-site sales.
Another possibility? Sales of cannabis at bars, nightclubs, and supper clubs across the province. But like all cannabis sold across the country, it would be pre-packaged by federally-licensed producers, so those hoping for infused cuisine, or bespoke cannabis cocktails at their local Keg restaurant shouldn’t get their hopes up.
The consultation asks a number of questions, including whether the Alcohol and Gaming Commission should expand the Special Occasion Permit program to cannabis, so that it can be sold and consumed at festivals and events. It also asks, taking into consideration the province’s anti-smoking laws, whether cannabis sales for consumption at places like lounges and cafes should be permitted.
Comments are due March 10. While it might not bring monumental change, it could lead the province to look a little bit more like the Netherlands, where cannabis is sold in coffee-shops that also permit onsite consumption.