It’s somewhat ironic that shortly after this country legalized cannabis in October 2018, Toronto’s Hotbox Cafe, which for years allowed patrons to consume marijuana in a space at the back of the store, was forced to shut down its consumption lounge.
This was because changes to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act (SFOA), which the provincial government adopted during the lead-up to legalization, banned all forms of vaping and the smoking of cannabis indoors. Previously, there had not been any prohibitions on vaping in public spaces and the law only explicitly banned tobacco smoking, leaving cannabis consumption spaces to operate in a legal grey area.
There’s also a “cannabis-friendly yoga studio” in midtown Toronto that offered participants the opportunity to get high while doing yoga. But when I asked them how things were going shortly after legalization, I was told that the ban on vaping indoors had caused them to stop offering the classes and rethink their business model.
Don’t expect any Amsterdam-style coffeeshops in Ontario any time soon.
I’m not quite sure why there’s a big difference between allowing people to use an illegal product in a legal way and allowing them to use a legal product in an illegal way — either way, some law is being broken. But changes to the provincial law obviously gave these businesses pause.
Now, the Ontario government is taking a (small) step in the right direction by announcing that it is engaging in public consultations over the prospect of allowing cannabis consumption in “specified social settings,” such as in cafés and at outdoor concerts and festivals. The only caveat: “The government is not considering changes to the SFOA regime as part of this consultation,” according to a government form soliciting feedback from the public.
In other words,