[Windsor Star – Dalson Chen] Downtown Windsor will have another place where people can vape or smoke medical marijuana — if Leo Lucier can pull off plans for his Vapelated Vapor Lounge.
“I want to set it up like a European cafe,” says Lucier, 46, proprietor of the new business at 26 Chatham St. E.
Lucier said he intended for the lounge to open on Thursday, but he admitted there’s a lot of work to be done. “We’re winging it,” he said.
Although mostly stripped of decor, the address still bears the bar, tables, and chairs of its former business, Fidel’s Havana Lounge. Instead of alcohol, the shelves now carry an assortment of bongs and candy bars.
Lucier and his staff tested out a Volcano brand vaporizer for the first time on Wednesday afternoon. “I’d rather smoke a joint,” confessed Lucier, himself a medical marijuana license holder. “I’m conventional. I’m old school.”
Similar to Higher Limits — Windsor’s first cannabis vaping lounge, which opened at 251 Ouellette Ave. in January — Lucier’s place will offer medical marijuana license holders a spot to gather and partake of their prescribed cannabis.
Lucier’s permit from the health unit describes his business as a food store, but his Ontario business licence describes it as a “compassion club for medical use of pot.”
However, unlike the “Marijuana Compassion Club of Windsor” that police busted for trafficking in 2005, Lucier assured that Vapelated Vapor Lounge won’t be selling or dispensing marijuana.
“Everybody automatically thinks a ‘compassion club’ is all about selling marijuana. I’m not about that,” he said. “I’m not going there.”
Lucier said he will have similar rules as Higher Limits: No alcohol, no tobacco, no minors, and customers bring their own pot.
The “compassion” part of the business has to do with Lucier’s philosophy. He describes himself as a Christian and intends to hold charitable events at the lounge.
He’s also hiring friends who need employment. Lucier said he’s brought in three people as staff so far.
Kerry Clinansmith, 44, has been living on disability support and is a medical marijuana license holder.
“We (license holders) have nowhere to go right now. It’s kind of a grey area,” Clinansmith said. “We have kids, we can’t smoke at home in the dwelling. We go outside, I don’t think it’s very good.”
Sean McLellan, 55, will be helping with the lounge’s day-to-day affairs. “I’m getting an opportunity to get back to work.”
Lucier — who works in tool and die — said he has invested about $30,000 into Vapelated Vapor Lounge so far.
Last week, the province’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care announced it will propose changes to the Smoke-Free Ontario that would make medical marijuana vaping lounges illegal.
But Lucier said he’s not concerned. “I don’t see the Ontario government changing this law very soon. It’s not going to happen overnight.”
Just a block away, Higher Limits co-owner Jon Liedtke said he wishes Lucier well.
“It’s not really competition,” Liedtke said. “The more cannabis-friendly establishments that open up in Windsor-Essex, the better.”
On Tuesday, Liedtke went to Toronto to meet with members of the Cannabis Friendly Business Association and discuss how they will deal with the impending provincial legislation against medical marijuana vaping lounges.
“It’s always encouraging to find allies in a David and Goliath situation,” Liedtke said. “I came away from it happy that there’s going to be some kind of organized response.”