Ontario plans to OK marijuana use in same places as cigarettes
Smoking marijuana would be permitted in the same places as cigarettes in Ontario, Canada’s most populous province, under legislation proposed in anticipation of federal cannabis laws taking effect next month.
Ontario’s attorney general announced plans Wednesday to put in place provincial regulations prior to Canada federally legalizing marijuana next month, including rules allowing public consumption anywhere cigarette smoking is already allowed.
“If passed, the legislation will provide additional certainty and stability about the specific regulatory framework that will follow the federal government’s Oct. 17 legislation date,” Caroline Mulroney told reporters.
A version of the bill scheduled to be tabled Thursday would include language amending the Smoke Free Ontario Act to include cannabis, meaning its passage would permit adults to legally smoke pot in the same places where cigarettes are already allowed, such as public parks and streets.
“I’m sure that there will be a lot of complaints about the neighbor next door, but we’re aligning with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act,” said Ms. Mulroney. “If you’re able to smoke tobacco in your home, then you’ll be able to use cannabis as well.”
Passed in 2006, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act currently prohibits smoking or holding lighted tobacco “in any enclosed workplace, any enclosed public places and specifically designated outdoor places in Ontario.” Ms. Mulroney said the law could be applied to marijuana, and that additional restrictions would beenforced prohibiting its use in vehicles and boats, where “cannabis poses risks similar to alcohol.”
Canada moved earlier this year to become the second country after Uruguay to federally legalize marijuana, albeit while giving each of the country’s provinces and territories room to make their own rules.
Ontario boasted a population of roughly 14 million as of 2014, and the province hosts both the country’s capital, Ottawa, and its most populous city, Toronto.
The bill introduced Thursday would implement an online-only system for retail cannabis sales once federal legalization takes effect, followed by a licensed, private retail system set for launching April 1, 2019.
“The government of Ontario will not be in the business of running physical cannabis stores. Instead, we will work with private sector businesses to build a safe, reliable retail system that will divert sales away from the illegal market,” Finance Minister Vic Fedeli said at Wednesday’s press conference. “We want to be clear that private retail stores will not be open on Oct. 17.”