Toronto City Council Passes Motion To Investigate Vapour Lounges

CANNABIS CULTURE – Toronto City Council passed a motion this week to start an investigation into the city’s marijuana “Vapour Lounges” and “their impact” on local neighbourhoods.

The Council adopted motion MM14.26, which calls for a “Comprehensive Review to investigate the legality and impact on individuals and the community of indoor smoking in public lounges and businesses of substances in water pipes and other apparatus.”

The motion, put forward by Councillor Mark Grimes and seconded by Councillor Cesar Palacio, recommends that

1.) City Council direct the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards, in consultation with appropriate City Officials, to undertake a comprehensive review into the legality of businesses operating as “Vapour Lounges” and their impact on the neighbourhoods in which they locate, and report back to the February 2012 City Council meeting, through the Licensing and Standards Committee, on their findings, such report to include comments from the Chief of Police, the Medical Officer of Health and the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards.

2.) City Council direct that the report also include:

a.) recommendations on any changes to City approval processes and regulations for licensing such businesses and smoking by-laws to better control this activity; and

b.) actions to be taken on ongoing monitoring of the existing businesses to ensure illegal activity is not happening on the premises, and they are undertaking only those activities permitted in their licences.

3.) City Council direct that until the report requested in Recommendation 1 above is considered by City Council, no further businesses undertaking this activity be licensed in the City of Toronto.

The motion also included a “Summary” section that provides a little background info:

Currently across the City of Toronto, Ontario and Canada a number of businesses are being licensed as cafes or similar business but are advertising themselves as Vapour Lounges. These lounges are permitting clientele to use, water pipes, vapourizers and vapourizing accessories to smoke and inhale substances such as marijuana and herbal mixtures.

Residents in local communities are concerned regarding the establishment and licensing of these sites, which are rapidly increasing in number across the City, and are not deemed conducive by many as family friendly, beneficial to the neighbourhood or in keeping with the intent of anti-smoking legislation. Residents in the immediate vicinity of these businesses are concerned that there is increased illegal drug trade, prostitution and other illegal activities in neighbourhoods were these businesses are arising.

Toronto is home to several Vapour Lounges: comfortable environments where marijuana-users can bring their own pot, buy snacks, and use house vapourizers. Some have been around for years and others are quite new.

“I’m proud of the help I’ve put forward toward creating a vapour lounge concept.” Chris Goodwin, manager of “Toronto’s Original Vapor Lounge”, Vapor Central, told Cannabis Culture. “I certainly don’t want to see it go away and I plan on defending it.”

Goodwin said he is willing to work with city officials in their investigation, but that Vapor Central will remain open.

“It’s business as usual,” he said. “The fact that they’re knocking on our door is interesting, but we are going to challenge it. It’s similar in ways to what happened about 10 years ago with massage parlours and about 10 years before that with some of the gay clubs. So we may end up inevitably with the licensing of vapour lounges as opposed to the opposite, like shutting them down.”

Marco Renda is owner of the recently-opened lounge Vape on the Lake, located on Lakeshore Boulevard, which happens to be in the same riding as Mark Grimes, the Councillor who proposed motion MM14.26.

“Mark Grimes is upset that I didn’t ask for his permission to open a vapour lounge in his riding,” Renda wrote on Facebook in response to the Council motion. “Maybe it’s time that we contact all the members of city council and educate them on the value of having vapour lounges in their ridings!”

Good idea.

View a list of Toronto City Councillors, follow the links to their contact information, and (politely) let them know you support Toronto’s vapour lounges.