A heavy-handed approach to cannabis law is devastating both economically as well as socially, yet here we are. The results are always an irresponsible misuse of a variety of resources, the spreading of social division and the most disastrous consequence by far: the government’s medical interference for societies most vulnerable- the sick.
The responsible thing to do would be to update our current smoking laws and regulations so that they are appropriate for our adapting society.
Our laws should favor and protect those most vulnerable rather than the wealthy or unaffected. When it comes to modernizing the new Clean Air Bylaws, the Capital Regional District (which governs the Greater Victoria area) undoubtedly failed.
Instead of amending the current Bylaws to include regulations that focused on where cannabis could be safely smoked or vaped, all public use is banned. Clearly, the people who are making the rules have no experience with the situations where a person will need to use cannabis in public.
Thanks to my medical history, I have a great deal of experience with public cannabis use and would be happy to share how the new Clean Air bylaws will affect someone who uses cannabis medicinally.
Like many people, smoking weed in my house is prohibited and with the rental market the way it is, I will not risk losing my place even though it’s medicine. Luckily for me, my landlord is ok with me using my medicine outside on the property. If this were not the case, I would have to put myself at risk by smoking somewhere in public.
Furthermore, with the new Recreational Regulations giving extra eviction rights to landlords and strata councils, the risk of smoking cannabis at home depends completely on luck.
It is not feasible to only take your medicine at home (see paragraph above), at the end of the night when everything in your day is done.
Medical needs have to be met and a 10 hour shift is a long time to go without your medication.
Most employers do not provide an onsite consumption room for their employees to use if they need cannabis to live. An epileptic employee relying on a quick couple of puffs at the park on their lunch can now face a bylaw fine without any other option.
At the Hospital
One of the worst problems created by the amendment to the Clean Air bylaws is the fact that there is nowhere to smoke or vape cannabis in or around the place where the sick congregate- at a hospital.
Because of the vast array of illnesses treated, social stigmas and the amount of planning and money it would take, the turn-a-blind-eye approach has always been adopted with cannabis use at a hospital.
Instead of us reshaping our bylaws to harmonize, regulate and protect our citizens, the Capital Regional District has ignored the people who are most vulnerable.
Now, the moment a cancer patient eases their symptoms by smoking a joint outside, they are breaking a brand new bylaw and can be fined accordingly.
The penalty for not complying with these bylaws are financial and can create a downward spiral into poverty.
The most likely to offend are those who have to, like those who are marginalized, sick or on disability; there is nothing to be gained socially from financially draining someone who may be unable to work in the first place.
The Clean Air Bylaws are here to serve a very important purpose and need to reflect and regulate current public use, not persecute people with medical illnesses.