ourWindsor.ca – Sean Previl
Windsor’s first vaping lounge is seeing good reception even after being open only two weeks.
Co-owner Jon Liedtke, 28, said since its opening they’ve seen approximately 125 people a day through the doors of Higher Limits at 251 Ouellette Ave., which used to be home of Venue Music Hall. With plans in the works to bring in performers such as Kenny and Spenny, who perform tonight, the Trailer Park Boys and other special guests, Liedtke said he wants to focus on the tourism aspect of Windsor and Essex County.
“What we’re doing is by focusing on the live performance aspect … by having those type of acts coming into the area we’re able to really focus on that tourism aspect,” said Liedtke, a medicinal marijuana user himself.
“But also showing our cannabis users and medicinal cannabis users that they don’t need to shy away from their medicine. They can come and take their medicine out in public and they don’t have to be embarrassed about it, they don’t have to be concerned about it.”
The purpose of the 6,000-square-foot lounge is creating a social place where people can feel comfortable.
And for 43-year-old Steve Reaume, a place like HL opening in Windsor was something “really cool.”
“It’s place for other people like-minded that can socialize, hang out,” said Reaume.
“Because of the stigma that’s always attached to it it’s not always acceptable. I mean people smell it and automatically think you’re a pothead and you’re not the brightest individual. But that’s not always the case.”
Reaume has been taking medicinal marijuana for about 20 years in order to help with pain after he had his spine fused multiple times, in addition to other health issues. He said he was taking “almost 500 pills of morphine a month,” which when he weaned off the morphine and began using cannabis medically, it changed his quality of life.
Liedtke said his business is about ending the stigmas attached to marijuana and it’s why they opened in the heart of downtown.
“Individual cannabis users, medicinal users, should not have to worry about these existing stigmas,” said Liedtke.
“These stereotypes, the snickers, the laughs, the flashed looks. The reason we opened in downtown Windsor, right at Ouellette and University, is because we want to be a part of this community out in the open and we’re not going anywhere.”
Opening a vaping lounge, however, still requires rules in order to not be shut down.
In order to maintain proper standards, Liedtke and his co-owners set up six posted rules, as well as hiring officials to maintain standards. The posted rules include being 18 years or older and customers must bring their own cannabis and do not sell to or buy from others. The use of alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs are also prohibited.
Owners and staff are also not allowed to ask for proof of marijuana license, something prevented by law. People are allowed to reveal this information, but only at their own discretion.
Retired Windsor police officer Al Adams has also been hired by the business as a security consultant in order to ensure it follows both provincial and federal regulations regarding cannabis.
Adams was unavailable for comment by press time, but Liedtke said Adams helped ensure the atmosphere stays safe and controlled and assisted in training of staff to watch for “red flags.”
“If we see someone, let’s say, going from they’re alone, going from person to person, asking for something, that’s a red flag,” said Liedtke.
“We’re going to ask them what are they doing and we’ll figure it out and if we see it again, we’re going to ask them to leave.”
He added the training helps assure Windsor Police they are “running this place as top notch as we can be.”
The end goal of the business, Liedtke said, is about changing perception.
“Changing how people perceive Windsor, changing how people perceive cannabis, changing how perceive our downtown core. This is really all about change. Things have been done the same way for a very long time. We’re very excited to be at the ground floor of a brand new industry.”