June 12th, 2024

Smoking bylaw needs weed changes

By Collin Gallant on August 16, 2018.

A young man smokes a marijuana joint during a rally in downtown Vancouver, B.C. City council members figure it could be a few months before an agreeable cannabis bylaw can be produced. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck


City councillors will debate whether soon-to-be-legal marijuana should be treated the same as tobacco within local smoking bylaws when city council convenes next Monday.

A recommendation from city staff suggests that just like a cigarettes, prohibition on the public use of cannabis should be in place for workplaces, indoor spaces, parks and other spots where tobacco smoking is restricted.

That was made public at Monday’s public services committee, though the chair says debate among councillors could revolve around adding all sidewalks.

“We had fairly extensive consultation with the public on this, and it jives well with what we currently have in place, though you could see some modifications,” said Coun. Julie Friesen.

The City of Medicine Hat was ahead of provincial legislation that banned smoking in workplaces and bars when it passed a bylaw in 2005, setting minimum distances from doorways.

Similarly it restricted several years ago tobacco use in cars when minors were present and likewise from beaches, playgrounds and other outdoor places where children congregate.

Those bylaws would be amended to equate cannabis and tobacco in the restrictions, as well as add vapourizers and electronic smoking replacements as means of consumption.

The plan would also expand the definition of indoor public space to include bus shelters, campgrounds and outdoor grandstands.

Smoking pot in other open areas where smoking tobacco is not banned would not be illegal.

When the item appears on Monday’s council agenda, members could vote to alter the areas, and could direct staff to draft the appropriate legal changes for passage in the near future.

Last month council approved a zoning map of areas where cannabis retail operations would be allowed.

The federal government has declared that cannabis will be legally available for sale and use by adults in mid-October.

A public feedback survey launched earlier this year stated that 41 per cent of the 7,100 respondents supported similar restrictions for pot and cigarettes, while 57 per cent said it should be banned in all public places.

A more detailed question of location found a majority felt private property, such and front porches and backyards, was the most appropriate place.

The recommendation to council is to expand the definition of “smoking” to include cigars, pipes and hookahs that burn or heat “tobacco or any weed of substance.”

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