An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
AS I STEPPED OUT of my vehicle in a parking lot the other day, the unmistakable stench of marijuana hit me. It originated, apparently, with a couple of guys making their way across the lot.
They seemed in good spirits.
When I was in my 20s, I thought the smell of burning marijuana was the best smell in the world. Now, it’s an offensive reek. I must say, though, that concerns about marijuana smoke wafting everywhere haven’t born out since cannabis was legalized three and a half years ago.
Everyone seems to have adjusted quite nicely to the new order.
That’s why I wonder about the push for cannabis consumption lounges. These would be similar to bars in which we consume alcohol. Currently, cannabis lounges aren’t allowed within the laws that liberalized the use of marijuana.
The idea has been around for a long time, and more or less became mainstream a year ago when the Union of B.C. Municipalities — the organization that speaks for B.C.’s cities and towns — raised it as something worth working toward.
The most likely locales for such lounges would be as addenda to private marijuana stores but could also be legalized for restaurants, festivals and Farmgate-style cannabis farms. Much as people enjoy sampling wine at wineries, they’d be able to indulge in edibles, extracts or cannabis beverages. Thankfully, no smoking or vaping indoors.
The government has now launched a public input process to help figure out whether there’s sufficient support. It runs through to May 8. Should the concept find favour, municipalities will have yet another zoning issue to contend with.
Theoretically, licensed consumption spaces would further reduce the sales of illegal cannabis but the big question is whether they would lead to increases in impaired driving and other negative consequences.
But it’s worked elsewhere and maybe it would work here. The only sure way to know is to try it, very, very carefully.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.