Advocate Says Patients May Need Ability To Smoke Cannabis in Public During Emergencies

Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana executive director Jonathan Zaid told CBC that he’s disappointed and concerned with the flip-flop from the Ontario government after initially allowing medical cannabis users to be exempt from new vaping and e-cigarette bans in public spaces.

“We wanted some kind of exception in place for medical cannabis users to be able to use their medication as medically necessary,” said Zaid. “While we understand the needs of business owners to have exceptions and protect the public health we feel that these regulations fully go against the rights of medical cannabis users.”

Zaid said unlike tobacco, cannabis smoke isn’t known to be carcinogenic and research doesn’t show negative effects from second-hand cannabis smoke the same way tobacco has. Zaid said he also understood that the smell might be an issue for some, but that there are times when patients need to use their medicine.

“Many medical cannabis users are chronically ill and may experience emergency situations where they need to use their medication immediately and might not be able to go outside,” he said.

Zaid said while he always goes outside to use cannabis, other patients might not have that luxury or to use other forms of cannabis like edibles to treat their symptoms.

“Someone could inhale medical cannabis when they’re feeling a seizure coming on and it’ll have action within a couple of minutes, versus if they were to have an edible, or something like that, it could take an hour or two,” Zaid said.

The government has allowed a 45 day consultation period for public feedback on the regulations and Zaid said he plans to offer suggestions to officials on ways to create exceptions for medical users such as having flexibility for business owners that can allow smoking on their property if they want.

“I think it’s important to keep in mind that medical cannabis users don’t want to harass other people, they respect other people,” Zaid said. “There may be times when they need to smoke around other people due to medical necessity.”