Cannabis and Business Law lawyer Whitney Abrams published "Ontario considering Cannabis Consumption Lounges and Cannabis Special Occasion Permits" on Canada Cannabis Legal on Tuesday, February 11.
Ontario considering Cannabis Consumption Lounges and Cannabis Special Occasion Permits
Yesterday, the Ontario Government issued a press release indicating its launch of consultations to “provide consumers more choice and convenience on cannabis”. The online consultation poses feedback questions relating to the “implementation of additional cannabis business opportunities in the future, including: (1) facilitating the sale of cannabis for consumption in establishments like lounges and cafes (i.e. cannabis consumption establishments); and (2) cannabis special occasion permits.”
Ontario may be the first Canadian jurisdiction to implement a framework for these new venues for cannabis consumption and sale.
Many people have anxiously awaited a change in the legislation to allow for consumption lounges. So, what may consumption establishments look like? The way it is contemplated now, consumption establishments will not be a locale for smoking or vaping. Why? The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 and its regulations prohibit smoking or vaping in enclosed public places or other certain prescribed places (including restaurant and bar patios). The government indicated in its proposal that it would not be considering changes to the Smoke Free Ontario Act, 2017 at this time, meaning, consumption establishments may take shape as a location where cannabis edible products, packaged by Health Canada’s licensed producers, are sold and able to be consumed.
On a provincial level, Ontario is limited. Ultimately, there will need to be changes to multiple different regulations, on both the provincial and federal level, to have consumption lounges as traditionally imagined, or cannabis-focus restaurants (with infused drinks or dishes, etc.) as many people hope for.
The second half of the consultation involves the idea of special occasion permits, which would facilitate the purchase and consumption of cannabis at entertainment venues, festivals and events. This is an exciting prospect to many. If and/or when special occasion permits come into existence, surely looking to California will be a great resource for Ontario. Last summer, California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control made news by its approval of a permit for the sale and on-site consumption of cannabis at a large music festival in San Francisco. Ontario is no stranger to B-Y-O-C (bring your own cannabis) festivals, but having the ability to sell cannabis with a permit in this way is a whole different ballgame.
The Regulatory Registry Feedback Form lists five broad questions and gives ample space for comments and feedback. Feedback must be submitted by March 10, 2020. The feedback, at this time, is simply feedback. The government was clear in its statement that the feedback is for the future, and that no time frame is set for changes to the cannabis framework to facilitate consumption establishments and/or special occasion permits.
We look forward to the changes to come and look forward to observing and assisting creative businesses in the industry, both new and old, who will make the most of it!