A members-only cannabis cafe has been quietly operating in Halifax for the past two months.
Owner Chris Henderson says the High Life Social Club, located on Spring Garden Road, is a place to relax and enjoy cannabis.
“For adults, where people can come and bring their own cannabis and use it here freely,” he said. “In a nice, safe place where you feel comfortable."
Daily, weekly, monthly and yearly memberships are available. The daily fee is $4.35 plus tax. The yearly fee: $173.92 + HST.
Henderson opened the business Sept. 6 and says it's been steadily growing.
He says people with medical marijuana licences also like the spot, since many people don't use cannabis in front of their families and prefer a discreet place to take their medication.
He does not allow people to smoke joints, blunts or pipes, saying he is "trying to promote healthier cannabis use."
Instead, members can use the vaporizers provided by his business. He says they produce less tar and odour.
Henderson says the only qualifications to become a member are a government ID showing the person is at least 18 years old. They check ID every time someone enters, to avoid memberships being handed around.
There are coffee, tea, cupcakes and other food and drinks for sale. This week Henderson is bringing in comedians and the club also have an open mic night.
Confident laws will change
Henderson sees this club as just the beginning.
“With all the laws in the U.S. changing with Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Washington, D.C., all legalizing recreational use, I want to be [at the] forefront of that industry when it comes to Canada,” he says.
He is confident laws in Canada will change.
Henderson says he contacted Halifax Regional Police before he opened to inform them of his plans.
"We're not here selling cannabis and committing crimes all day long,” he said. “The worst thing that somebody is doing here is vaporizing cannabis. We can do this responsibly and safely and there's no need to divert police attention from actual crimes."
Police spokesman Const. Pierre Bourdages says there have been no complaints about the business and there is no evidence of trafficking.
However, he says when they were approached by the owner they were told it was a place to smoke medical marijuana. Either way, he is not aware of any law that prohibits allowing people to smoke on the premises.
Henderson says he's respectful of neighbouring businesses, one of the reasons customers are required to use vaporizers.
“I can operate here without disturbing my neighbours and without worrying about people leaving here and stinking,” he said.
Pizza place seeing increased business
He says one business seems to be doing well as a result of the club.
“I heard the pizza place next door has been getting a lot of extra business so that's been great for them,” he said.
Henderson believes his business is the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada, but not the first in the country. There are at least seven similar clubs in Ontario and more than 30 dispensaries of cannabis in B.C.
CBC News spoke to a number of people walking past the business. No one was opposed to it, as long as young people are not involved.
University student Kenny Cameron said some of his friends have been there.
"I think it's a good thing. I think it's pretty progressive to give people in the city a chance to medicate properly and in a comfortable, safe environment,” he said.
Others suggested it was better that cannabis be smoked at the High Life Social Club, as opposed to apartments where kids might be exposed to the smell.