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Richmond parent outraged at thought of cannabis sales in restaurants

Survey aims to gage appetite for expanding edible cannabis spaces.
Richmond parents are outraged after participating in a survey asking if they think people should be able to consume legal cannabis at more venues.

The thought of cannabis being sold in Richmond restaurants, pubs and even spas has some local parents in a fury.

"I felt so infuriated while taking the survey; some questions just drove me nuts," said Richmond mother Connie Huang.

The provincial government is currently conducting a survey asking residents if they think people should be able to consume legal cannabis at more venues, including restaurants, festivals, and concerts.

The survey, which was launched in early April and runs until May 8, notes that “cannabis smoking and vaping would not be permitted indoors. Only cannabis beverages, edibles and topicals could be used indoors.”

However, that did little to assuage Huang’s concerns.

"The last thing I want is allowing edibles and cannabis beverages to be used indoors.”

Her primary concern is the impact on young people, she explained.

“Expanding licensed cannabis consumption spaces might negatively impact children, trigger their curiosity about weed, and make them feel it's not a big deal to try weed. In addition, some teenagers might break the law trying to obtain cannabis products,” said Huang, who posted on WeChat telling more Richmond parents to respond to the survey and let their thoughts be known.

Another Richmond parent, Edward Liu, who set up the Marijuana (sic) Concern Group in 2018 to fight cannabis legalization, agreed with Huang.

"It might increase the chances for more young people to get their hand on edible products," said Liu.

Liu also pointed to a recent report released by Health Canada showing that people between the ages of 16 to 24 years reported cannabis use in the past year at a percentage that was approximately double that of those 25 years and older.

"With these figures in mind, the province should do more to make cannabis less accessible to people," said Liu.

However, not everyone is against selling edible cannabis in restaurants and pubs.

William Tse, director of the Richmond-based BC Asian Restaurant Café Owners Association, said he thought some business owners would probably endorse the idea as long as they aren’t charged a license fees.

"Many small business owners are struggling. This idea might help them drive more foot traffic to the restaurants," said Tse.

Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, said in a written statement to the Richmond News that cannabis is an important agricultural crop in British Columbia and a significant economic driver in some rural regions.

“Cannabis businesses have said allowing consumption spaces could help build a robust and sustainable legal cannabis economy,” reads his statement.

However, Farnworth also noted that some public health and safety stakeholders have raised concerns that consumption spaces may increase overall cannabis use and lead to increased risks of impaired driving, smoking, or co-use with liquor.

“This engagement (the current survey) will gather information to assess the level of public support, economic feasibility and public health and safety implications of non-medical consumption spaces,” the statement continues.

The province will release a summary of the results later this year.