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Adrian Chamberlain

The Green Ceiling Cannabis Lounge has caused quite the buzz since opening doors April 18, 2016.

Here is an article from Adrian Chamberlain  / Times Colonist.

http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/victoria-mayor-not-ok-with-new-pot-consumption-lounge-1.224485

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Mayor Lisa Helps is unhappy with the opening of a cannabis lounge in Victoria. However, its owner said the new business provides a much needed service.

Helps said she’s “not OK” with The Green Ceiling, which provides a public place for pot puffing. She said the city is devising regulations that may put the kibosh on the enterprise, which opened its doors on April 18.

The Green Ceiling is the first of its kind in the city, said Ashley Abraham, the 28-year-old owner. While it doesn’t sell cannabis, the “vapour lounge” offers a coffee shop-style atmosphere for people wanting to smoke weed publicly.

Patrons, who must be at least 19 years old, pay $5 an hour. In return they have access to marijuana-smoking accessories such as papers, bongs and vapourizers. The Green Ceiling also offers board games and plans to host live music, comedy and art shows.

Abraham applied for a business licence but is still awaiting word from the city. She has met with a lawyer who said such a business is legal. She said she also spoke with a Victoria police community resource officer who told her she’d be breaking no laws by running a cannabis lounge.

Despite a growing public acceptance, Victoria police public affairs officer Const. Matt Rutherford said being in possession of marijuana is still a violation of Canadian law. However, the legality of running a lounge such as The Green Ceiling — which doesn’t sell cannabis — is a grey area.

“If [Abraham] is not in possession, I don’t know what she’d be charged with,” Rutherford said.

Helps said Abraham is in violation of a municipal bylaw if she operates without a business licence. Meanwhile, city staff are compiling a report on the regulation of marijuana-related businesses in Victoria. It’s expected to come before city council this month.

“My understanding is that one of the regulations is going to be no consumption of cannabis on the spot. We don’t have any regulations in place. But as soon as we do, this business won’t meet the guidelines,” Helps said.

Abraham said she opened The Green Ceiling because there’s a need in Victoria for public cannabis-smoking spaces. Many people are not permitted to smoke marijuana in their homes, particularly apartments and condominiums. And she said smoking in parks or on the street is inappropriate.

“You’re talking about someone who’s using cannabis and now they’re forced into a dark alleyway like a criminal. We need to get away from that,” Abraham said.

“This [smoking lounge] is a lot more civilized. It allows people to maintain their dignity.”

Born and raised in Victoria, Abraham used to run a bed-and-breakfast until she was injured in an automobile accident. She then got a job with the Vancouver Island Compassion Society, which provides cannabis for people using it for medical reasons. Abraham said her background in hospitality and cannabis makes her ideally suited to run The Green Ceiling.

The high-ceiling lounge has chandeliers, orange walls and tiled floors. It’s the former showroom for Gazzola Tile and Design on Quadra Street, which still operates next door. Abraham rents the premises from Gazzola. A sign on the wall forbids cigarettes and “blunt wraps” (joints using tobacco leaf as a wrapper).

There are other marijuana lounges in Canada, such as Marc Emery’s Cannabis Culture in Vancouver. Abraham said her inspiration is Toronto’s long-running Hotbox Cafe. She has spoken with its owner, Abi Roach, who advised her to be strong, avoid being a nuisance and keep at it. “She said I should know what I’m doing is a needed service.”

Last month, the federal government announced plans to legalize and regulate marijuana in the spring of 2017. Helps said she and Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay have written to the prime minister seeking guidance for municipal governments wanting to regulate marijuana use in the interim.

achamberlain@timescolonist.com

 

The Green Ceiling Step Up Stage

Stage for Performances

We are excited to announce that we have a stage to host performances on and just last week we got a PA system complete with a mixer and two microphones!          

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Victoria News

Pamela Roth – Victoria News

It’s been well over a year since Ashley Abraham began putting the wheels in motion to open a marijuana lounge in Victoria.

The young entrepreneur had noticed a growing number of people were unable to consume cannabis in their homes due to condo boards or landlords, pushing them to use the drug elsewhere.

But now Abraham has found a space for pot lovers aged 19 and older to bring their weed and socialize for a $5 fee. She didn’t consult with city officials about her business plans, but maintains she’s not breaking any laws.

Prior to opening The Green Ceiling on Quadra Street, Abraham met with a constitutional lawyer and a police officer. Since then, she’s dropped off a business licence application to the city and isn’t worried the business will get shut down.

“I’d like to work with them (the city) and be a positive part of this community. I feel like I’m putting something very positive forward here,” said Abraham.

“There is no law in Canada against the consumption of cannabis. That’s what I’m allowing to do here.”

Victoria’s Mayor Lisa Helps is troubled that some businesses are opening and operating without a licence while the bulk of entrepreneurs abide by the city’s rules. When she ran for mayor, Helps never thought she’d be in the business of asking staff to develop regulations around marijuana.

Now the city is in the midst of developing a regulatory framework for the more than 30 medical marijuana dispensaries operating in Victoria. The framework will come to council for consideration in early May. The vapour lounge is the first Helps has heard of.

“This is not an issue that should be handled by the city, this is an issue that should be handled by the federal government,” said Helps, adding the vapour lounge could be ordered to shut down if it’s not in compliance with city regulations.

“It’s not legal to smoke cigarettes inside. If someone was in a store and they lit up a cigarette, it’s unthinkable.”

Long-time marijuana advocate Ted Smith hopes to see more vapour lounges pop up in Victoria and believes it could help drive tourism as the federal government moves towards legalizing the drug.

Health Minister Jane Philpott recently announced Canada will introduce legislation next spring to spark the process of legalizing and regulating marijuana. The announcement came on the same day as dozens of people gathered in Centennial Square for the annual 4-20 pot rally.

Typically the event is a protest, but the government’s announcement marked the end of a revolution for Smith. The former head of the Victoria Cannabis Buyer’s Club was hopeful one day the drug would be legalized, but he wasn’t sure if it would ever happen during his lifetime. It’s an idea he’s still getting used to.

“It’s a beautiful feeling to think that we’re not going to be arrested for simply smoking a joint. It’s a dream come true,” said Smith. “To have this announcement made on April 20 is a day that I will never forget. It’s a turning point in history. This is phenomenal.”

Smith will be keeping a close eye on what exactly the regulations will entail. Fears are already brewing that the drug will be over regulated, he said, making it hard for small scale producers to enter the market. Some people are also worried medical marijuana dispensaries could get shut down once the provincial government steps in and decides where the drug will be made available.

Despite the uncertainty that lies ahead, Smith plans to continue celebrating 4-20, but he noted the event will likely be moved into a more controlled environment.

“I’d like to have it at Royal Athletic Park where we could ID everyone going in and have lots of vendors, booths and bands,” he said. “It will change from a protest to a celebration.”

http://www.vicnews.com/news/377285751.html

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CTV News

CTV Vancouver Island
Published Wednesday, April 20, 2016 6:22PM PDT 
Last Updated Wednesday, July 13, 2016 1:08PM PDT

 

http://vancouverisland.ctvnews.ca/hundreds-toke-up-in-victoria-to-celebrate-4-20-legalization-news-1.2868390

Hundreds of revellers at a 4/20 rally in downtown Victoria had extra reason to celebrate after Ottawa announced it was firming up plans to legalize marijuana Wednesday.

A haze of smoke rose from Centennial Square as the clock struck 4:20 p.m. and many still hoisted signs with pro-legalization messages despite Canadian health minister Jane Philpott’s statement to the United Nations that Canada would introduce legislation in Spring 2017 to legalize the drug.

Ted Smith, who said he has campaigned for legal pot for two decades, called it one of the biggest days of his life.

The pot activist said the seeds of today’s national news have local roots, crediting the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision last year that supported a baker working for the Victoria Cannabis Buyers Club.

The ruling upheld the rights of medical cannabis users to consume pot as an edible or oil.

“At that point I think this entire façade of a war on drugs became exposed, that our government truly didn’t know what this plant was and how to use it properly,” Smith said.

It remains unclear what the legalization of pot will look like in B.C.

“The federal government can proscribe, so it can come up with things that the provinces can’t or shouldn’t do, and then each individual province will come up with its own set of regulations for retail sales,” said pot activist Deiter Macpherson.

That means it will be up to each province whether you can buy pot at local liquor stores or pharmacies.

Businesses pushing boundaries

With the race to legalize now official on, businesses in Victoria continue to push the boundaries of existing restrictions – to the chagrin of the city’s mayor.

Victoria’s first-ever cannabis lounge opened its doors this week under the legal fog.

Owner Ashley Abraham said The Green Ceiling is a safe place to vaporize marijuana away from prying eyes, as long as you’re 19, have $5 and your own pot products.

“We’re not dispensing on site, there’s no sales and we’re absolutely not allowing people to be selling cannabis here,” Abraham said.

While smoking tobacco products has been banned from patios, bars and restaurants for years, the lounge gets away with it.

Provincial health restrictions and the Capital Regional District’s clean air bylaw are tailored specifically to tobacco – and say nothing about marijuana.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said businesses such as Abraham’s won’t be included as the city moves toward establishing regulations for pot dispensaries.

“It’s not legal, that’s my thought,” Helps said. “They don’t contemplate allowing consumption on site as part of the business license regime for these cannabis dispensaries.”

Helps said the regulations for dispensaries will be implemented by late May or early June.

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The Green Ceiling as a Start Up

It all started with an idea.

As most business start up’s do, The Green Ceiling started with an idea. A mere thought that popped into my head on an idle afternoon. I must have been growing bored of puffing my stash around the kitchen table, perhaps this boredom was fueled because I had just come back from a cherished visit to the cultured city of Amsterdam with their abundance of canna-friendly establishments but regardless the spark of inspiration, that was the day I started taking the steps towards opening Victoria’s first adult use cannabis vapour lounge.  The truth is that it hasn’t being easy and it has taken imagination, perseverance and flexibility to get here.

In the beginning I did a bit of brainstorming and a LOT of talking to keep the idea alive.

I had to take this little thought bubble of mine and transform it into something tangible.  Literally every person I spoke with and every conversation I had, I would bring up my idea and also would ask their opinions. I spoke with all the usual suspects; family, friends, and co-workers… but it didn’t stop there. I also chatted with people in line ups, taxi drivers, bus operators, and small business owners. I spoke with anybody who would listen, and in turn I listened to them when they shared their ideas with me. The law of attraction works and by talking about my ideas I was in fact drawing them into reality.

Perseverance, let me tell you, when they said it takes perseverance they weren’t kidding.

I can recall at one point thinking with all certainty that I would be able to start looking for a location, renovate, and be open to celebrate  4/20, 2015     ~ I was due for a wakeup call.

It has taken nearly a year to get to here and I have heard it all during that time.

I just so happened to be looking for a cannabis friendly landlord at the same time as the dispensary boom in Victoria. What this meant was that I was facing huge competition for the available commercial lease spaces against businesses that also at the time had seemingly limitless revenue sources. I was outbid on more than one location during the year and I even had a few people suggested that I change my business model and open a dispensary. This brought about many moments of frustration and also came with a huge amount of benefit (even if it was hard for me to see at the time). The challenges I was facing set my resolve and also cemented my belief that a lounge truly was what I wanted to open in Victoria, even if it took time to get there. The extra time has allowed me to develop The Green Ceiling at a more organic pace; to have a logo designed and to build on our web presence and brand recognition. I was able to tour many available lease locations and gain an idea of what structurally would work for the lounge, and also what wouldn’t. During this time I was able to build upon my network of supporters, and assemble a team of people who have helped me bring this project to fruition.

As I am sure you are beginning to imagine, I had to exercise a lot of patience and flexibility within my plan to help it to survive this previous year. 

Even though I had cemented the concept of opening a lounge, I also had to allow the plan to flex and ebb as situations required. What this meant is NOT getting to far down on myself when things didn’t go exactly the way I had envisioned. I found one of the easiest ways to keep my chin up was every time I received a rejection email or phone call, I would force myself to go online and look at other properties that might work thinking ”Ok, that space didn’t pan out, but have you checked out these warehouses over there?”  When I came across a roadblock allowing a little flexibility has meant that I could get around, over, under or between it.

To conclude I would like to share a quote that sums up the previous year perfectly.

 “Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.

Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.” ~ Bruce Lee