Vapor Central feature in Toronto's Eye Weekly from 4/20/11EYE Weekly - Vapor Central: Yonge Street's Pot-Smoking Haven
Two Toronto police officers stand by the door of Vapor Central as marijuana smoke forms clouds around their heads. Their gaze sweeps the crowded, paranoia-stricken lounge.
“Don’t worry, everybody,” says one of the cops. “We’re not here to arrest anybody. I just wanted to show my officer this place.”
His partner, awestruck, picks up a Sweetleaf grinder. “What’s this?” he asks, before grinding up the cannabis inside, emptying it onto a glass plate and asking if anybody in the place wants to smoke it. As the two cops leave without incident, the lounge’s manager, Chris Goodwin, triumphantly takes a hit from a bong. "Only at Vapor Central," he thinks, beaming with pride.
That incident, according to Goodwin, actually happened in 2009. Nobody here’s in denial—marijuana has been illegal in Canada since 1923—but recreational smokers and medical users alike have never felt less shady about lighting up than at Goodwin's space. At 190 square metres, Vapor Central is the largest pot-friendly lounge in the country, and every night, it’s bursting at the seams. Its many patrons know they won’t be arrested for possession or smoking without a medical license; in return, they’ve kept a place that shouldn’t exist alive and thriving into its fourth year.
Vapor Central is located on a strip of Yonge south of Bloor nicknamed the Yongesterdam Hempire—a cheeky tribute to Amsterdam, where legalized marijuana is considered a major tourist attraction. Goodwin sits at a table sharing a joint with seven other dedicated stoners—his “hemployees.” He started this business in 2007, just one week after spending almost five months in jail. Vapor Central's grand opening occurred on April 20, a date recognized in cannabis culture for celebrating marijuana consumption and for holding peaceful smoke-out protests.
Get Goodwin started on the topic of marijuana prohibition and he’ll rant with explosive passion, but with the clarity and fluency of a bubbling brook in spite of—or maybe because of—the fact he’s perpetually stoned. Through his activism, he’s been charged with nearly every cannabis-related offence in the book, from possession to trafficking—that’s 38 offences on 13 separate occasions over the past 12 years. But Vapor Central has never been raided.
Read the rest of the article here: EYE Weekly - Vapor Central: Yonge Street's Pot-Smoking Haven