Ontario Now Reviewing Medical Cannabis Smoking Exemptions

One day after announcing that medical cannabis would be exempt from smoking restrictions in the province, the Ontario government has all but reversed its decision.

“We’ve heard the concerns around this regulation, and we’re going to take this feedback and see if this regulation is the best way to move forward,” said associate health minister Dipika Damerla.

The government is poised to introduce a new law, Jan. 1, that would ban e-cigarettes anywhere smoking isn’t currently allowed, but had included an exemption for medical cannabis users, who would be free to smoke or vape anywhere in public. Private businesses could still ban cannabis use on their property.

“There could be a situation where somebody needs it for pain management, so it’s about accommodating their interest but also making sure that Ontarians are protected from any harm of second-hand smoke or … vapour,” Damerla said.

Damerla said the cannabis rules were created under legal advice that not accommodating medical cannabis users could raise constitutional issues for the government.

Ontario NDP Member of Provincial Parliament Jagmeet Singh said his party understood that medical cannabis is a legitimate treatment for some Canadians but the public needed to be considered, as well.

“The government needs to be doing their job. One, of letting people know of the decision they’ve made, and two, making sure that people have input on those decisions,” Singh said. “These are things we expect from the government and the government has failed again.”

Damerla wouldn’t say if the review of the medical cannabis exemptions would be finished before the Ontario smoking laws are put in place in the new year.