Former police officer opens cannabis lounge in Winnipeg

Winnipeg's first cannabis lounge touts itself as a safe place to light up and connect with other medical marijuana users for support.
Winnipeg's first cannabis lounge touts itself as a safe place to light up and connect with other medical marijuana users for support. 2:14

Winnipeg's first cannabis lounge touts itself as a safe place to light up and connect with other medical marijuana users for support.

Vapes on Main, in the 1400-block of Main Street, has been open for about two weeks to anyone 18 or older who uses medicinal marijuana.

Steven Stairs has glaucoma and uses medical marijuana to relieve his symptoms. He also served on the University of Manitoba Students’ Union as the Students Living With Disabilities Representative last year.

"I mean, marijuana smokers and medical marijuana users are just the same as anybody else,” said Stairs. “We like to sit around and talk and have a conversation about something just like we would over a Tim Hortons."

Vapes on Main owner Bill Vandergraaf (left with sunglasses) hangs out with others at the medicinal marijuana lounge on Main Street. (Nelly Gonzalez/CBC)
Stairs hopes the lounge will be a building block toward more such lounges on the prairies.

Owner Bill Vandergraaf, a retired Winnipeg police officer, said he hopes the club will create more awareness about medicinal marijuana use.

He said he got the idea after seeing similar clubs open in Vancouver and Toronto.

“I thought it was time for Winnipeg. I think it's much safer to have people using medical marijuana where they can share their experiences, where we can educate the public … and simply create a peaceful atmosphere,” Vandergraaf said.

The private club is free to use but they are accepting donations to pay for things like coffee and munchies, he said.

No alcohol or other drugs are allowed.

Vandergraaf said he doesn’t expect to encounter any issues with police because they aren't doing anything illegal.

A spokesperson with the city told CBC the city doesn’t issue out licences for medicinal marijuana lounges, adding there is no current legislation prohibiting such establishments either.

"There is nothing under the Doing Business In Winnipeg bylaws and nothing under the zoning bylaws that would regulate this," the spokesperon said.

Winnipeg police declined to comment at this time.


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