On April 6, 2022, the BC government announced that it is seeking public engagement on cannabis consumption spaces in the province. A “cannabis consumption space” refers to a type of business that offers cannabis for on-site sale and use. Consumption spaces may include cannabis lounges, cafes and eateries, designated outdoor areas, concerts, festivals, ticketed events, spas and more.
Cannabis consumption spaces are currently illegal in Canada, although some provinces, such as BC, are seeking public feedback. Current licensed cannabis retailers and others that want into the industry are anticipating the day that they can tap into this potentially lucrative new business category. Existing cannabis retailers are also looking for ways to attract customers, differentiate from competitors, increase revenues, and offset losses experienced during the pandemic.
Now three years after legalization, patience in the industry is growing thin.
In July 2020, the Ontario government said “No, for now” to cannabis cafes after seeking public feedback about cannabis consumption spaces earlier in the year, but has made no plans to move past the initial engagement phase. CBC Toronto has published the results of that consultation (see the bottom of the news article linked to above). Business groups support expanding the market, public reaction was mixed, and Ontario health officials were critical of the plan, expressing their concerns that cannabis lounges would make the drug easier to obtain and would cause more cannabis-related personal and social harm.
In that province, at least two entrepreneurial retail cannabis shop owners have jumped the gun and skirted current law, opening cannabis lounge areas where customers can buy cannabis, have a seat and smoke or vape weed while sipping a coffee.
In 2021, the BC Cannabis Secretariat, who is responsible for coordinating non-medical cannabis policy across the provincial government, received initial feedback from the following groups:
View a detailed list of groups that provided initial feedback in the preliminary engagement.
From April 6 – May 9 at 4 p.m., the BC government opened engagement on cannabis consumption spaces to all businesses, stakeholder groups, the public, local and Indigenous governments.
The feedback collected will be used to “assess the level of public support, economic feasibility and public health and safety implications of non-medical consumption spaces”. The engagement will culminate in a publicly available “What We Heard Report” in the fall of 2022, which will inform the government’s decision whether to allow consumption spaces, and if so, how they will be regulated.
To provide feedback, first read the discussion paper to get an understanding of the benefits, challenges and context. Then, complete an online survey or provide a written submission expressing your views on consumption spaces.
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