Smoking Weed in Public Allowed Wherever Tobacco is Permitted in Ontario — Ontario Smoking Laws Explained
The Canadian marijuana experiment has seen some ridiculous solutions for the issue of where smoking weed in public is permitted. Calgary proposed the idea of special consumption sites where cannabis users can be quarantined while smoking as if they were prawns from district 9. This ludicrous plan ended up collapsing under the weight of its own stupidity.
Initially, the situation in Ontario did not look much better. Leading up to legalization, Doug Ford’s idea of a cannabis economy was beginning to resemble an unprepared mess. However, the last minute switch to a privatized system that actually had the potential to make money left Ontario legalization showed great promise. In spite of this, there still remained more than a few unanswered questions regarding the future of legal cannabis in Ontario and the status quo was still general disarray.
This is evidently still the case as Ontario currently lags behind the other provinces in establishing brick and mortar cannabis stores. As of this article, Ford maintains that none of these stores will be established until at least April of 2019. However, PCs have done something sensible on the legislative side of things that might just redeem their track record. Ontario will allow smoking weed in public wherever tobacco smoking is permitted.
Doug Ford Scraps The Liberals Initial Plan
The Ford administration has taken the approach that less arbitrary regulation surrounding cannabis is better. This principle has extended to Ontario smoking laws. Under Kathleen Wynne’s initial ruling, Ontario citizens would have been banned from smoking weed in public altogether. Private residences would have been the only location where smoking cannabis was permissible.
The hypocrisy that cigarettes would not have been similarly restricted was self-evident. This also says nothing of private residences such as apartment buildings that prohibit smoking cannabis on their premises. At the very least, cannabis consumption sites would have provided a viable option for these dirty, weed smoking prawns. However, the Wynne administration completely failed to take this into account. Evidently, sound public policy was not this administration’s strong suit.
Cannabis Laws Are Being Overhauled
In addition to the ruling that Ontario will allow smoking weed in public, a few other Wynne era policies were on the chopping block. Presently, Ontario cannabis laws and regulations are in the midst of a massive overhaul.
Ford will do away with a cap on the number of cannabis stores, thus permitting the rapid growth of the retail side of the cannabis industry. Other provinces with similar policies such as Alberta have seen over 500 license application submitted. With a substantially larger population, Ontario can undoubtedly expect to be inundated with local entrepreneurs attempting to get in on the action before April.
Regulation of the industry will be handled by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. This government body will require potential candidates to apply for a retail-operator license as well as a retail store authorization in order to become a licensed seller of cannabis. Regulating cannabis through existing alcohol commissions is a familiar model for Canadians as British Columbia, Manitoba, Quebec, Alberta, and many others have pursued a similar route.
With regards to substance regulation, it is difficult to please everyone. Finance Minister Vic Fedeli, discussed the difficulty of walking a fine line between serving both the needs of consumers and small business owners.
“We want to make sure the consumers are protected but we want to open up the marketplace. This is an opportunity for small business to get involved. We want to have as many participants as possible be involved.”
While the Ford administration has been remarkably lax on smoking weed in public, it will not tolerate selling to minors or involvement with organized crime. The latter has been an issue as of late, as biker gangs have managed to infiltrate medical cannabis to a small degree and sell their product at grey market dispensaries. Fedeli elaborated on potential repercussions of involvement with criminal elements.
“Any engagement with organized crime, any record of providing youth cannabis, any of that would bar you from participating in the private cannabis market,”
Will Criminals Be Allowed To Participate in the New Market?
While the Ontario government made its stance clear on smoking weed in public, it was notably vague on a question that has puzzled many Canadians looking to get into the legal cannabis industry. Will people with drug charges be allowed to own cannabis stores?
Justin Trudeau stated that while some form of amnesty might be in the works, people with trafficking charges will be barred from market participation. This broad statement could potentially sweep up many of the grey market dispensary owners who received charges in one of the periodic, ineffective raids they have been subjected to.
Other Provinces such as British Columbia have made their stance clear and have posited solutions that would allow dispensary owners a means of transitioning into the legal market.
Finance Minister Vic Fedeli made inferences that perhaps Ontario has something similar in the works.
“If you are still operating an illegal retail operation after Oct. 17, you would not be able to get a license in Ontario.”
This statement implies that there might be a gateway open for Ontario’s current dispensary owners, but that it would be firmly shut to those attempting to operate illegally after Federal legalization.
With no brick and mortar stores planned until April, Ontario cannabis enthusiasts can expect a very dry winter indeed. Online sales are sure to be inundated with orders after legalizationas a result.
Alignment With the Smoke-Free Ontario Act
Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and Finance Minister Vic Fedeli expanded upon the legislation in question before it was tabled. They elaborated on the possible implications of the fact that Ontario will allow marijuana smoking wherever tobacco smoking is permitted. Mulrooney said,
“We’re aligning with the Smoke-Free Ontario Act. If you’re able to smoke tobacco in your home then you’ll be able to use cannabis as well.”
The government will maintain its stance on smoking cannabis in motor vehicles. If a car is operational, smoking cannabis in it will result in a fine between $1000 and $5000.
Ontario legalization has come with many speedbumps, mishaps, and surprises. However, it seems that the Ford administration is committed to pursuing a sensible free-market approach with regards to cannabis.
Through their ruling that Ontario will allow smoking weed in public wherever tobacco smoking is permitted, it is evident that the PCs will not be susceptible to the mass hysteria that has influenced public policy regarding cannabis in the past. Pursuing a single uniform stance with regards to Ontario smoking laws is both logically sound and fair for cannabis consumers.By: Stefan Hosko