Designated cannabis consumption spaces should be legal in B.C.

Allowing venues to offer on-site service and consumption is best for businesses and society

(Kristen Frier)

(Kristen Frier)

Let us be real, cannabis is not going away anytime soon. In fact, as far as we are concerned, the non-medical consumption of cannabis could be considered a permanently entrenched market in the same way alcohol and tobacco are. Just like cannabis, the latter two substances have experienced their own trials and tribulations over the decades with adjustments in regulations and legality. 

Nowadays, you can’t smoke in most indoor areas, and alcohol consumption is surrounded by various rules on how, when, and where it can be sold along with consequences for actions carried out while intoxicated. The purpose is to allow adults to make an informed choice and safely consume these substances in public spaces that minimizes harm against others. Soon, cannabis may join the list of substances that can receive a similar designation.

Until May 8, the British Columbian government is asking for public feedback on the sanctioning of “cannabis consumption spaces” that will be allowed to “provide cannabis for on-site sale and use.” 

Some businesses that could be included are cafes, lounges, concert or festival venues, ticketed events, and even spas. Should smoking weed be permitted in such spaces, they will be subjected to provincial health laws and take into account the needs and priorities of Indigenous communities and municipalities.

A discussion paper published by the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General makes it clear that a cautious plan is being laid out. Consideration is being taken in regards to factors including land use, economic impacts, health and safety, and so on. 

A market exists, the customers exist, and society largely approves. It is for the best to accept this reality rather than hold your nose and close your eyes. Therefore, it is necessary for public policy to evolve alongside these social changes, much as it has with every other big social change. 

By 1948, the provinces that had prohibited the sale of alcohol like PEI and Newfoundland had re-established their rules and regulations for how businesses served beverages, and the relationship between booze and public spaces. 

It is completely reasonable to ponder upon the similar relationship B.C. and Canada as a whole has with pot right now. Much like how bars allow people to drink and take measures to prevent patrons from driving drunk or getting into any other instances of intoxicated foolishness, venues and events that serve weed will have to be required to ensure customers do not cause trouble at the risk of legal penalties. 

To put it simply, the wilderness era of cannabis culture is coming to a close. That frontier is being divided up with defined boundaries and understandings as to how everything will function. 

No longer an illicit substance that occupies a legal grey area, cannabis and its consumption might never go fully mainstream, but it is not the underground niche it used to be. The reality is that the way we view cannabis has changed exponentially. It is not the menace we once thought it was, very few can call it “the devil’s lettuce” with the straight face that moral guardians of days past once did.

Despite all those previous comparisons to alcohol and tobacco, regulating cannabis-serving venues will not be a one-to-one translation. When new problems arise, we must look to new solutions appropriate to the given circumstances. 

What would the point of legalizing cannabis even be if interested customers have too much trouble gaining access? It is better to let people have access to safe, legal cannabis than be forced to turn to illicit sources, and designating spaces to consume it in public supports that goal.