Vapour lounges are at the forefront of our recent cultural revolution. Washington and Colorado took the plunge as the first two American states to legalize marijuana, while others seem to be largely following suit progressively by decriminalizing it. Legalization talks are more and more present in Canada as Federal Liberal Party leader, Justin Trudeau, is very much in favour of the move. Even without pot being legalized, there are several loopholes in the law that allow many to sit back with some friends and light up.
Whereas marijuana might be illegal, vapour lounges are not. Anyone over the legal age can walk into a vapour lounge with their own supplies – selling is very much still illegal – rent out papers, vaporizers, or pipes, buy a coffee and some snacks and get high. Vapour lounges and cafes are prominent in places like Amsterdam, where any form of marijuana and the act of smoking it is legal, but these chilled out zones are rising in popularity even in places where pot has yet to become legal. Toronto, Vancouver and certain cities in the United States are taking the lead, bringing a kooky “Amsterdam" feel to the cityscape.
So why is it legal to provide a safe space for people to smoke pot in places where the drug is actually still illegal? First of all, privacy laws restrict anyone from asking for the medical status of your marijuana, so it could be prescribed. These vapour lounges don’t even need a specific license – most of them just have a business licence or a food establishment license. The majority of them run as regular coffee shops that sell beverages and food with the added feature of “vaping." These lounges aim to provide a safe environment for people to do what they were probably going to do on the streets anyway, and to creates a united and enlightened cannabis community. If you’re undecided on the to-legalise-or-not-to-legalise question, perhaps a rundown of these five fascinating North American vapour lounges will help you make up your mind.
#5. Club Ned – Colorado
The first cannabis cafe to open in Colorado, Club Ned’s owners, a middle-aged couple, faced difficulties when they had to keep prolonging their grand opening due to complications with their license. Club Ned’s slogan is “a club with altitude" and it’s an exclusive club only for pot smokers. The idea is to have an intimate, small space where people can choose to enjoy each other’s company or to sit quietly in a corner and enjoy their joint without the usual judgmental looks that come with lighting up just anywhere. Club Ned is particularly special because it’s the first business of its kind to open in Colorado and will probably pave the way for more in the newly legalized marijuana state.