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  Using Medical Marijuana Now OK in Public Places
Posted by CN Staff on November 26, 2015 at 11:11:02 PT
By Rob Ferguson, Queen's Park Bureau 
Source: Toronto Star 

Canada Ontario -- It’s okay, I have doctor’s note. Under new Ontario regulations, that’s what people puffing on medical marijuana — in a joint or an e-cigarette — can now say in any public place where smoking is otherwise banned.

The exemption includes everything from movie theatres to restaurants, offices, stadiums, playgrounds full of children and more – even the legislature, Dipika Damerla, Ontario’s associate health minister, acknowledged Wednesday.

She was peppered with questions about the new rules, which leave gray areas in which bystanders – particularly kids – could be exposed to potentially dangerous second-hand pot smoke and how to prove the smoking is a legitimate medical use for cancer, severe epilepsy or other conditions.

But employers, restaurant owners and other proprietors have the right to overrule any medical marijuana smoking, Damerla said.

“As an employer or a restaurant owner you can say ‘there’s no vaping, no smoking of medical marijuana here,” she told reporters. If a person were to continue smoking “they are breaking the law.”

A restaurant owner “could ask for some kind of verification,” Damerla added when pressed on what constitutes proof the pot is medically prescribed.

“This is about the fact that somebody who’s very ill, maybe in a lot of pain, wants to use. There are many ways to take marijuana. This is one way.”

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said she’s concerned about people being exposed to second-hand marijuana smoke or vapour, although she wants to take a closer look at the regulations.

“That’s something we need to keep in mind…we need to take a closer look,” she said, joking that if someone was smoking medical pot beside her in a restaurant that “I’ll probably eat more.”

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown didn’t quarrel with the regulations and said he wouldn’t make “political hay” of the issue.

“If it’s for medical purposes, it’s for medical purposes,” he said. “There’s not going to be an overwhelming amount of people in Ontario running out to parks to have their medical marijuana.”

The Canadian Cancer Society warns on its website that “people exposed to second-hand marijuana smoke may have many of the same health problems as people exposed to cigarette smoke, including an increased risk of cancer.”

Other studies have found medical marijuana significantly improves quality of life and pain control for patients who need it.

Damerla tried to downplay any controversy, saying there are a “very, very limited” number of people in Ontario taking medical marijuana and that allowing them to do so in public is an issue of “balancing” rights.

The government consulted “very broadly with the medical community” before approving the new regulations, she said.

A group called Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana called the policy an “important milestone in the recognition of the legitimacy of the use of cannabis as a medicine.”

“Ontario has taken a huge step forward,” executive director Jonathan Zaid said in a statement.

“Many patients, including myself, choose to vaporize their medicine, and any prohibition on vaporizer use would have severely limited the ability of patients to use their medication as prescribed.”

Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Author: Rob Ferguson, Queen's Park Bureau
Published: November 25, 2015
Copyright: 2015 The Toronto Star

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Comment #1 posted by Oleg the Tumor on November 29, 2015 at 05:19:46 PT
Attention: Zig Zag Man
All is forgiven (almost). Please come home. We miss you, man.

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