News / Ottawa

Medical marijuana vapour lounge 'long overdue' in Ottawa, say patients

When Suzi Strand stopped into a medical marijuana vapour lounge in Toronto, she was not greeted with a cloud of thick smoke or blaring music.

Instead, it was a place the Stittsville resident could go and socialize with other people, like herself, who rely on vapourizers and other forms of medical cannabis to get through the day.

“Vapour lounges are not the social menace that people think that they are,” she said.

BuzzOn, a medical marijuana vapour lounge, recently opened at 29 Montreal Rd. It’s “long overdue” said Strand, who suffers from Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, PTSD and trigeminal neuralgia, commonly referred to as the “suicide disease.”

“A place like a vapour lounge is a safe place for patients to come together and chat and have some sense of community,” she said. “It’s really quite helpful for people who suffer with depression to be able to know that there’s someone out there who suffers like they do and medicates the way that they do.”

Ottawa resident Sandy Daviau, who has Multiple Sclerosis, says life can be solitary for medical marijuana patients. He’s willing to pay the BuzzOn membership fee to puff his medicine in the company of others.

“It’s a place where we can go meet and greet each other, pass on news, information, everything,” he said, adding that one vapour lounge in Toronto even hosts stand-up comedy nights.

On Wednesday, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said he was “not impressed” with the new vapour lounge, partly for secondhand smoke reasons, and that he “fully expects” police to keep an eye on the venue for any illegal activity. BuzzOn claims it does not sell weed.

“We cannot find any studies where secondhand smoke from cannabis has caused any problem at all,” said medical marijuana advocate Alison Myrden, who battles chronic progressive multiple sclerosis. “What about the bad smell of perfume? What about somebody passing wind or what about body odour? All these things are constitutional rights and we can’t start banning anything.”

In theory, anyone with a medical marijuana license is legally allowed to smoke pot. But Myrden said she received about a dozen calls this week from patients across the country who said they were arrested for medicating. It’s time for authorities to catch up, she said.

“As cheesy as it sounds, there’s no shame in my game,” added Strand. “I’m very proud that I use cannabis. I’m not in a wheelchair because of it. That’s a big deal to me. I want to shout it from the rooftops.”

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