By: Joseph Jamil of Minden Gross LLP
The Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (“ACMPR”), as it is drafted does not contain any restrictions as to where medical patients may consume cannabis.
On the Provincial level, Ontario has not set any restrictions either. In November 2015, the Ontario government attempted to amend the Electronic Cigarette Act and the Smoke Free Ontario Act, which bans the use of e-cigarettes in public. The amendment would have excluded those who use cannabis for medical purposes from the prohibition of using e-cigarettes in otherwise smoke-free places. Dipika Damerla, the then Associate Minister of Health and Long-Term Care stated that employers and restaurant owners could “override this exemption”, so as to restrict the use of cannabis at the workplace or in local cafes. The proposed exemption was quickly removed and the government returned to the drawing board. To our understanding, the Ontario government has yet to make any new efforts to legislate on where registered medical cannabis patients may consume.
As for the recreational market, we already know that provinces will impose restrictions on where people may use cannabis for recreational purposes. In Ontario, the government has stated that initially consumption will be prohibited in public and only legal within private residences. The government has stated that it will consider the possibility of licensed spaces for consumption in the future. Despite this, we can anticipate that any law relating to consumption will provide for an exemption with respect to medical purposes use.
In July of this year, Attorney General Yasir Naqvi signalled that the public could look to Ontario’s tobacco by-laws for answers with regards to restrictions for smoking recreational cannabis. However, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act only restricts where people can smoke tobacco or hold lighted tobacco and does not include cannabis for medical purposes.
So, what does this mean? We currently have a gap in the legislation where consumption of cannabis for medical purposes is not addressed. Effectively if you are registered as a patient under the ACMPR, you can use cannabis for medical purposes wherever you want.