Pubdate: Mon, 01 May 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Joanne Laucius
Page: A3


There are a lot of unknowns about how marijuana will be consumed when
federal legislation kicks in next year.

One of the biggest: Where will users legally be able to use cannabis?
It's a question Ottawa Public Health is considering. It is also
speaking to other municipal agencies, and it might expand its
consultations to include health and social service agencies and early
intervention and treatment agencies.

The city's health authority does not want pot to be smoked in cannabis
cafes similar to the "coffee shops" of Amsterdam. However, it is
speaking with local stakeholders "to assess the local implications of
cannabis legalization, including the potential for designated spaces
for some marijuana users."

But it's too early to say what these spaces might be or who would be
permitted to use them.

Gillian Connelly, manager of health promotion and disease prevention,
said OPH's mandate is to improve and advocate for health and
well-being through prevention, promotion and protection. It opposes
creating public places, either indoors or outdoors, where people can
consume marijuana and has recommended a comprehensive ban on
consumption in workplaces.

"We do not want to create an environment that normalizes it," said
Connelly. "There's a risk that people will think this is a benign
substance. It's not. There are health risks associated with consuming."

About half of Grade 12 students in Ottawa and about 15 per cent of
adults have used marijuana in the past year, according to surveys.

The December 2017 federal task force report on cannabis legalization
and regulation argued that no matter what the source, secondhand smoke
is a health hazard and an imposition.

The report also expressed concern that smoking or vaping cannabis in
public places can "renormalise" tobacco use and turn back the clock on
progress in decreasing tobacco consumption rates.

The report urged that the same restrictions that apply to tobacco and
vaping products should also apply to cannabis. But it also noted that
there had been discussions about permitting the use of cannabis in
designated venues such as lounges, tasting rooms and social clubs.

There was also concern about the lack of private spaces for people
such as renters and homeless people. The task force recommended that
jurisdictions could, if they wished, designate places for the
consumption of cannabis.

The task force added there should be safeguards that prevented the
consumption of marijuana alongside alcohol, as well as preventing
underage use. Ottawa Public Health has also suggested exploring
options to include multi-unit dwellings in legislation, so exposure to
second-hand smoke is reduced.

It has been working with landlords and property managers to inform
them of the benefits of adopting no smoking policies for their
buildings and has seen a growing trend in Ottawa of buildings with no
smoking policies, said Connelly.
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