Ashtrays illegal in Ontario medical marijuana lounge

Health officials ordered the owner of Higher Limits medical marijuana lounge in Windsor, Ont., to remove all ashtrays, which cannot be kept inside any business under Ontario's tobacco laws.

Provincial tobacco laws prohibit ashtrays in marijuana lounge

Ramsin Ishaq can smoke marijuana at Windsor's new Higher Limits lounge, but ashtrays are not permitted because of Ontario's tobacco laws.

Ramsin Ishaq can smoke his medically prescribed marijuana all day long at a new medical marijuana smoking and vaping lounge in downtown Windsor, Ont., but health officials say he can't flick the ash from his joint in an ashtray.

Instead, he has to ash his joint on the counter top or table.

That's because health officials ordered the owner of Higher Limits lounge to remove all ashtrays, which cannot be kept inside any business under Ontario's tobacco laws.

The situation is a bit of an odd conundrum for the owner, Jon Liedtke. Those same tobacco laws have no mention of marijuana, which is why he can legally operate a smoking and vaping lounge that caters to medical marijuana users.

Liedtke wants to work with health officials, so he found a creative work-around. He's asked his customers to leave ash on the tables and countertops until he can find a a more permanent solution.

"Hopefully we can work together to seek a resolution on it and if they're not willing to do that then we'll have to investigate some other options, which might mean meeting with the Ministry of Health," he said.

Liedtke and his fellow owners plan to consult with lounges in other municipalities in order to come up with several options. They'll then report back to the the health unit in the coming weeks.

Coming up with new regulations for smoking marijuana indoors could be coming soon, according to Kristy McBeth, director of knowledge management at the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

"I think it's something that will likely be considered moving forward in relation to the use of medical marijuana, specifically in public places and workplaces," she told CBC News. "But currently, from a public health perspective, this is not something that is covered."

Ishaq just appreciates having a place to go to smoke his medical marijuana, saying it can go a long way to eliminate social stigma about the drug.

"I think this is a great opportunity to shift the culture's view," he said. "People can take you seriously when you mention medical marijuana as a potential medical treatment."

With files from Joana Draghici

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