A Saskatoon-area marijuana lounge has shuttered its doors, but its owner says the closure won’t stop him from pushing for legalization, even if accomplishing that goal means giving it away himself.
Jeffrey Lundstrom, owner and operator of The Lounge in the Loft, said representatives from the city’s community services branch, the fire department and Saskatoon Health Region requested access to the property for inspection purposes on May 11.
Rather than grant entry to the business, he instead chose to close it down permanently.
“They were very persistent about the inspection. My basic thoughts on it were that this is the first stage of them attempting to push my business out,” Lundstrom said.
The Lounge in the Loft has been open since February, offering a place for both recreational and medically licensed marijuana enthusiasts to use cannabis in a social setting.
Lundstrom, an avid proponent of legalization, said he had plans to use the business as a cultural venue for open-mic comedy, poetry and even as a location for educational seminars on the benefits of medicinal marijuana.
Instead, he is now planning to host a shutting down “smoke out” party on Saturday, when he’ll toke up and dole out free marijuana to anyone who joins him.
“I want the City of Saskatoon to know that I want to publicly disobey their existence. You want to come arrest me for weed? Then I will be giving it away for free — which in their books is considered trafficking. So I implore them to come arrest me. I want to go to jail for their bulls — t, so I can go stand in front of their courts and argue they’re wrong,” Lundstrom said.
“This is public disobedience. This is how you make things change.”
Saskatoon police said they are aware of Lundstrom’s plans, and although they were not inclined to say what their response will be, they strongly discouraged anyone who plans to attend or break the law.
Michael Schwandt, deputy medical health officer for the Saskatoon Health Region, verified that the three groups did pursue an inspection on May 11, and said it’s not uncommon for joint inspections of this kind.
According to Schwandt, the health region was merely responding to reports The Lounge in the Loft was serving prepared food without appropriate documentation.
“We have a responsibility under the public health act to license the restaurant if there’s food preparation. If it’s just a matter of serving chips or other munchies that have already been prepared and packaged, that’s not really our jurisdiction,” Schwandt said.
Lundstrom said he is in the planning stages of starting a non-profit organization called Sensible Saskatchewan as an official channel for collecting signatures and attempting to change the social and legal stigma around marijuana use.
“It’s got to start somewhere, and I’m not going to stop fighting. I just hope I don’t go to jail in the process,” he said.