Cannabis cafes in Halifax legal, while pot possession is not

WATCH ABOVE: While marijuana possession is illegal in Canada, Halifax police say businesses that allow customers to consume cannabis on their premises are perfectly legal. Marieke Walsh explains.

HALIFAX – Even though possession of cannabis is illegal in Canada, Halifax police say there is nothing illegal about a business that charges people so they can vaporize pot inside their cafe.

High Life Social Club opened on Spring Garden Road in September, its a self described Amsterdam-inspired cafe and vapour lounge. Customers – with and without medical marijuana licenses – are allowed to vaporize cannabis inside the lounge.

Club owner and medical marijuana user Chris Henderson said the only thing they have to bring is their own pot and government-issued photo-ID.

So far Henderson said no customers have been questioned by police.

READ MORE: Black Friday turns green? Marijuana industry targets holiday shoppers

However, anyone in possession of pot without a medical license could still face criminal charges and police said they are aware of High Life Social Club.

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“We cannot arrest people or search people randomly for no reason, we need evidence of a criminal offence happening or we need complaints, which we we have neither at this time,” said Cst. Pierre Bourdages, of the Halifax Regional Police.

Another reason why the police might not be interfering with customers is because officials don’t want to logjam the judicial system with petty crimes.

“Not only are the courts dropping simple possession charges like flies,  I haven’t seen one go through in quite some time,” said Chris Enns, owner of Farm Assists Cannabis Resource Centre and a long time pot advocate.

Before he got his license Henderson said there were a few times where police found small amounts of pot on him and simply took the cannabis away rather than charging him.

He agrees with Enns that some police are turning a blind eye to simple possession offences.

“From what I’ve seen from what a lot of police forces have done over the years is really tone down on their charging people with simple possession because it not only is very harmful to our justice system and the court system by flooding it with something that shouldn’t be a crime,” said Henderson. “But also it’s just such a low priority to (police).”

So far, Henderson said business has been good.


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