Pubdate: Tue, 11 Oct 2016
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2016 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Allison Jones
Page: A5


Toronto - Ontario's Liberal government defended allowing medical
marijuana users to vaporize anywhere by saying they had consulted
"very broadly" - but emails show those consultations involved the
input of just two people.

Ultimately, the associate health minister had to defend the policy for
just one day after the government backtracked on the policy within 24
hours. The emails, obtained through freedom-of-information
legislation, show the premier's top staff members were both unaware of
the new rule and confused by it.

The new e-cigarette regulations banned the use of the devices
anywhere regular cigarettes were prohibited. But the government
provided an exemption for medical marijuana users, meaning they could
have vaped in restaurants, at work or on playgrounds.

The exemption became public Nov. 25 and by the next day, Dipika
Damerla, then the associate health minister, said that based on the
feedback, they were going back to the drawing board. The government
ultimately decided there would be no exemption.

The Making Healthier Choices Act, which dealt with displaying calorie
counts and banning flavoured tobacco products - as well as e-cigarette
restrictions - went to regular committee hearings. But out of the 35
presenters, only one person - medical marijuana advocate Matt Mernagh
- - spoke of the need for an exemption. No other presenters were asked
for their thoughts on it.

The e-cigarette regulations were also posted for a standard comment
period, but only one medical marijuana related reply was received,
from Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana.

In addition to the two people consulted, the ministry also conducted a
legal review and discussed it with other areas of government, the
Health Ministry said.

Though it is still illegal federally for recreational use, no Ontario
law restricts where marijuana - medical or otherwise - can be smoked
other than the Liquor Licence Act, which prohibits consumption of
controlled substances on licensed premises. There was also a need to
consider the needs of medical marijuana users to treat their illnesses
or disabilities, staff wrote.

The government ultimately decided to ban medical marijuana users from
smoking or vaporizing anywhere regular cigarettes are prohibited.
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MAP posted-by: Matt