By Joseph Jamil of Minden Gross LLP
Earlier this month, the Ontario government released its plan to regulate where recreational and medical cannabis may be consumed. The government tabled Bill 174, which, when enacted, will repeal the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and the Electronic Cigarettes Act, 2015. As a replacement, the Ontario government will enact the new Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017.
The Smoke-Free Ontario Act, as it stands now, only restricts where people may smoke or hold lighted tobacco and does not contemplate cannabis for medical purposes. What this means, is that under the current legislative regime, registered patients under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (“ACMPR”) are able to smoke medical cannabis without restriction. The legislative gap was discussed in a previous post on Canada Cannabis Legal.
According to Ontario’s proposed legislation, the Province intends to regulate where medical cannabis may be used. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has stated that its plan is to limit the places of use for both recreational and medical cannabis.
The proposed legislation, which is expected to come into effect some time before July 2018, will limit patients’ ability to use cannabis for medical purposes in a number of places, including: enclosed public places, enclosed workplaces, schools, child care centres, and the reserved seating areas of sporting arenas. The use of medical cannabis and electronic cigarettes will also be banned in enclosed public places and other similar areas where smoking tobacco is currently banned.
The proposed legislation provides for limited exemptions from this rule, allowing medical cannabis to be consumed in some spaces including: controlled rooms in residential care facilities, designated psychiatric facilities designated veterans’ facilities, scientific research and testing facilities, designated guest rooms in hotels, motels and inns, and residential hospices.
Although Ontario will eventually restrict the smoking and vaping of medical cannabis in public spaces, with limited exemptions, patients can currently consume medical cannabis wherever they want in Ontario.