Op-Ed

Photo: CC, Chuck Grimmett

Some restrictions for public use needed, but have to be specific

Last week the government of Ontario announced, and then reversed, its policy on where medical marijuana users could use their medicine. The one-day policy moved to exempt users from the laws regarding public smoking, which meant that medical marijuana users could light up pretty much anywhere.

The policy was reversed after backlash over the lack of limitations. Marijuana clearly has medical benefits, however the provincial government was right to place restrictions on smoking it in public.

Laws for marijuana use, either for legalized recreational or medicinal reasons should be held to the same standard as smoking or vaping laws, provided that’s how it’s being consumed. If the drug is used through inhalation, then it makes sense it would fall under public smoking laws that limit smoking in enclosed spaces.

While it is being used for medical purposes, smoking marijuana in an enclosed space leaves other people exposed to by-products they might not feel comfortable inhaling. According to the Canadian Cancer Society people exposed to secondhand marijuana smoke can develop the same health issues related to cigarette smoke.

The restrictions for e-cigarettes under Bill 45, the “Making Healthier Choices Act” should apply to vaporizing medical marijuana as well.

This bill, which will go into law Jan. 1, doesn’t allow e-cigarette use in schools, enclosed public spaces, enclosed workplaces, or in the common areas in apartment buildings and residences, among others. Yes it’s medicine, but it still produces a vapour and so should fall under laws for other vapour-producing devices.

However the government shouldn’t distinguish between marijuana and prescription pills when marijuana is consumed in ways other than smoking or vaping.

If a medical marijuana user ingests it in any other way, through oil, food or in a pill, then they are, and should be, allowed to do so. As a society we can’t be OK with someone downing prescription pills by a school but upset over a medical marijuana user eating a pot brownie in the same place.

If the only way that a user can take their medical marijuana is through smoking or vaporizing then an exception should be made.

The government must form a clear standard for legal control around its use, as hazy policies on recreational marijuana use will only lead to chaos.