You are here
Home > News > British Columbia Considers MJ Consumption Spaces, Citizens and Businesses Weigh In

British Columbia Considers MJ Consumption Spaces, Citizens and Businesses Weigh In

While cannabis may be legal in some states, consumers can only smoke it inside their homes. This leaves tourists and local marijuana consumers unable to enjoy the legal cannabis market. Considering the amount of public spaces to consume alcohol, it seems like a severe limitation that folks can’t similarly enjoy cannabis in a public, social setting.

States around the U.S. have only just started to move forward with public consumption lounges over the last few years, but is the country’s northern neighbor Canada ready to make the plunge? The jury’s out on the country as a whole, but a new government report indicates that the province British Columbia is considering the leap.

It’s worth noting that British Columbian policy around public consumption is already a bit more liberal than that of many U.S. states. According to the province site, adults over the age of 19 are “generally allowed” to smoke or vape cannabis in public spaces that allow tobacco smoking and vaping. These spaces can be distinguished from cannabis consumption spaces, which are typically used to describe a place like a bar, event, or business that permits cannabis use and possibly sales on-site.

The province sought citizen feedback about allowing cannabis use spaces in spring 2022 through an online survey, telephone survey and written submissions. British Columbia officials sought to learn the views of its citizens about cannabis use spaces.

Among 730 random phone survey respondents, 61% supported consumption spaces, and 35% had used cannabis at least once in the past year. Only 34% of respondents online supported the initiative, which was partially due to self-selection bias and the research methodology. The total number of online respondents was 15,362, with 305 having used cannabis during the previous year.

The report notes that most cannabis users also support consumption spaces. This includes cannabis producers, retailers and associations. The majority of cannabis users also said they would visit a cannabis consumption space to purchase and use cannabis, showing the most interest in cannabis cafés and lounges.

Most of the people opposed didn’t use cannabis. They also did not come from any public health or safety organizations or local governments that had submitted written comments. Many non-users stated that they were likely to steer clear of businesses and events that permit cannabis consumption. There was concern about the possibility of spaces serving alcohol or cannabis, as well as the increased chance of impaired driving.

Post-legalization studies in Canada have found time and time again that, at least with the country’s current laws, there hasn’t been a spike in stoned driving, including one just after the country’s 2018 legalization, another the following year and another from 2021, concluding that there was no evidence of significant changes surrounding cannabis legalization and weekly counts of emergency department visits. There are usually specific prohibitions against alcohol and cannabis being served in the same place, even though some states have permitted cannabis consumption.

This report refers to the 2021 BC Cannabis Use Survey which estimated that 1.4 million British Columbians had used cannabis at some point in their lives. Therefore, it states there may be at least 750,000 people in the province who are interested in visiting a cannabis consumption space “at least once.”

“Health and safety are our utmost priorities as we consider how provincial cannabis policies could evolve,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, in a news release. “This report provides valuable insights into people in B.C.’s perspectives on cannabis and will help guide our work to support a strong, diverse and safe legal cannabis sector across the Province.”

Canada’s smoking laws are one reason why legal cannabis consumption has not been implemented. Although both tobacco and cannabis smoke have been shown to be carcinogenic, the Bylaws were created for public safety and health.

This report gives insight into B.C.’s wants and needs. Residents, however, have not yet seen the government make any further decisions about cannabis use spaces or how they will be regulated.