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article imageOntario residents allowed to smoke pot where cigarettes are legal

By Karen Graham     Sep 27, 2018 in Politics
Toronto - Ontario's Progressive Conservative government on Wednesday loosened the province's Smoke-Free Ontario rules — allowing Ontarians to smoke recreational marijuana wherever it’s legal to smoke tobacco.
Ontario Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and Finance Minister Vic Fedeli made the announcement on Wednesday, one day before new legislation on pot rules was set to be tabled.
They said the provincial government intends to amend the Smoke-Free Ontario Act to require recreational pot smokers and vapers to follow the same rules as tobacco and e-cigarette users, including a ban in enclosed public spaces and workplaces with a maximum fine of $1,000 for a first offense.
“In addition, the legislation would prohibit the consumption of cannabis in vehicles and boats that are being driven or under a person’s care or control, recognizing that in these circumstances cannabis poses risks similar to alcohol,” Mulroney said Wednesday.
Another important announcement was that municipalities will have until January 22, 2019, under the new legislation, to opt out of hosting pot shops.
Last month, the provincial government announced it would sell recreational cannabis online through the provincially-owned Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) as soon as it is legalized on October 17, while private retail stores are set to be in place by April 2019.
The previous Liberal government had originally planned to give the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) a monopoly on the sale of pot, but under the new legislation, OCS would no longer fall under the LCBO, but report directly to Finance Minister Vic Fedeli.
Fedeli said anyone looking to open a pot shop will have to apply for both a retail-operator license and a retail store authorization for each potential location.
We want to make sure the consumers are protected but we want to open up the marketplace," Fedeli said. "This is an opportunity for small business to get involved. We want to have as many participants as possible be involved." And anyone breaching the rules will not be allowed to obtain a cannabis license in the future.
"Any engagement with organized crime, any record of providing youth cannabis, any of that would bar you from participating in the private cannabis market," Fedeli said. "If you are still operating an illegal retail operation after Oct. 17, you would not be able to get a license in Ontario."
Robert Schwartz, a University of Toronto professor specializing in cannabis distribution and public health agreed with the provincial government's handling of the marijuana consumption rules.
"It's going to create challenges for people who live in multi-unit dwellings, but it's already a challenge," he said. "There are already a lot of people in these dwellings who are complaining about second-hand smoke from cannabis and therefore there are some condominiums that are going smoke-free completely which is a good thing."
Schwartz, who is also the executive director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, says people should not be smoking at all. "It's really important to communicate to people that they should not be smoking," he said. "They should be using it in other ways. Preferably, you'd have a distinction between smoking and vaping, not that vaping is benign but it's undoubtedly better than smoking."
Smoke-free zones or not
Once marijuana for recreational use is legalized in October, it is going to be interesting to see how the law go down - simply because each province has different laws governing tobacco use and where smoking is allowed. For example, in British Columbia, cannabis law permits smoking weed in the same spots where you can smoke cigarettes.
In Saskatchewan, there is an outdoor cannabis ban, and marijuana is barred from schools and daycares. Regarding private property use, landlords can ban marijuana growing and smoking. So unless you own your home, it may be questionable if you're allowed to smoke pot.
As for online sales of marijuana, it's going to be limited in Ontario to "dry flower," as it will be across Canada. There will be some oils you'll be able to buy, as well as some seeds you will be able to buy if you want to try your hand at growing at home.
The market for pot is in full bloom thanks to burgeoning industrial growing operations  marijuana ed...
The market for pot is in full bloom thanks to burgeoning industrial growing operations, marijuana edibles and a higher demand for equipment from those who want to grow -- or consume -- cannabis at home
Josh Edelson, AFP/File
Keeping marijuana out of the hands of people under the age of 18 has been a concern for officials in all the provinces. And it is fairly obvious that some identification is needed. In Alberta, two forms of ID will be required to purchase pot online.
“Through the online sales, age verification will happen during the initial online sale… and at the time of delivery,” said AGLC spokesperson Heather Holmen.
“It’s fairly quick and simple, however, it does require some information to ensure that the person that is purchasing the product is indeed someone who is legally permitted to purchase,” Holmen said. In other words, personal information including name, date of birth and address will be collected. A quick background check will be done to verify the purchaser’s ID.
More about marijuana use, Ontario, SmokeFree Ontario, Free market, recreational use
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