Medicinal Marijuana Users Can Now Smoke In Public Under New Ruling

With some major exceptions

UPDATE 4:10PM (11/26/2015): Associate Health Minister Dipika Damerla announced that their decision to remove the band on medical marijuana use in public has been reversed after only a day, in a press statement made Thursday: “We’ve heard the concerns around this regulation, and we’re going to take this feedback and see if this regulation is the best way to move forward. [We will] take a hard look and see and make sure that this is in the best interest of Ontario.”

Ontario Medical Marijuana users can exhale a deep sigh of relief today as new legislation has said yes to smoking in public.

People suffering from diseases such as Cancer or Epilepsy no longer have to worry about fines or tickets for smoking in public. As long as you have a permit, it’s allowed.

The ruling comes with a heavy list of exemptions however, such as restaurants, movie theaters, parks with children, venues — most places that smoking tobacco is also prohibited. There’s a number of grey areas to the ruling, as Ontario’s associate health minister Dipika Damerla admitted with the announcement.

For indoor locations like restaurants, the rule may be up to the preference of the owner. Restaurant owners have the right to ask for permits. “As an employer or a restaurant owner you can say ‘there’s no vaping, no smoking of medical marijuana here,” Damerla explained. If a person were to continue smoking “they are breaking the law.”

Neither opposition leaders to the Liberal government, NDP leader Andrea Horwath and PC leader Patrick Brown put up a fight to the new legislation. “If it’s for medical purposes, it’s for medical purposes,” said Brown.

While there will be a lot of kinks to iron out in the near future, Jonathan Zaid of the Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana group called this legislation an “important milestone in the recognition of the legitimacy of the use of cannabis as a medicine.”

However, since the legislation covers only medical marijuana users and not recreational users, this ruling applies to a small amount of people. “There’s not going to be an overwhelming amount of people in Ontario running out to parks to have their medical marijuana,” said Patrick Brown.

Main Image courtesy Rusty Blazenhoff via Flickr