Contrary to Canada’s strict policies against public tobacco use, a new law in Ontario allows medical marijuana patients to smoke and vape cannabis in any public place, as long as the establishment does not have a liquor license.
Certified medical marijuana patients in Ontario are no longer subject to the same laws that govern smoking and vaping tobacco in public places, announced Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Dipika Damerla. Tobacco and cannabis smoke have officially been separated by law.
“The law allows for an exemption because someone needs it for a medical purpose,”
The same law that permits medical marijuana patients the freedom to consume also grants business owners and employers the right to override the freedom. “As an employer and a restaurant owner, you can say that there is no vaping, no smoking of medical marijuana,” Damerla said. Damerla also clarified that the law does permit both smoking and vaporizing, as long as the patient has a doctor’s recommendation for it.
While medical marijuana advocates commend the freedom provided by the new law, Patrick Brown, Ontario PC Leader, worries that the new law may challenge municipal guidelines that are already in place. “The conversation they should have is with municipalities to make sure that the provincial regulations are in line with what municipalities have already established,” he said. “And in some cases they have their own regulations that prohibit smoking in places like parks.”
Brown was not concerned, however, that patients will use the new law as an opportunity to smoke cannabis around children, explaining that he doubts there will be “an overwhelming amount of people in Ontario running out to parks to have their medical marijuana.”
Andrea Horwath, NDP Leader commented that her party would further investigate the new rules regarding the public consumption of medical marijuana.
“We know that Health Canada has issued some warnings about exposure of young people to the smoke and vapor of medical marijuana and that’s something we have to keep in mind,”
Jonathan Zaid, Founder and Executive Director of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana (CFAMM) stated: “This is another important milestone in the recognition of the legitimacy of the use of cannabis as a medicine. Ontario has taken a huge step forward by exempting medical cannabis patients and their use of vaporizers.”