Ontario Wants Federal Clarity On Medical Pot

Ottawa needs to clarify the rules surrounding the possession and consumption of medical marijuana, says Ontario’s minister of government services in a letter requesting a meeting with the federal health minister to discuss the issue.

Confusion surrounding the rules regarding medical marijuana and conflicts with Ontario’s liquor laws have resulted in several complaints before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario from medical marijuana users who allege discrimination after they were forbidden from smoking pot along with cigarette smokers outside drinking establishments.

“I am writing to ask for your assistance in clarifying Health Canada’s policy on the possession and consumption of medical marijuana and the appropriate circumstances where the product can be used,” wrote Government Services Minister Ted McMeekin, in his March 10 letter to federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq.

“It is essential that Health Canada act to formally clarify its intention and direction regarding the consumption of medical marijuana.”

McMeekin suggested the federal government formally clarify medical marijuana rules in its recently introduced bill to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act which aims to toughen punishment for drug crimes.

“Is the federal government prepared to clarify its intent related to the above issue in the form of a legislative or regulatory change?” wrote McMeekin.

The Ontario minister also asked for information from Health Canada on the affects of second-hand marijuana smoke.

A spokesperson for Aglukkaq said the federal government was “considering next steps” on regulating medical marijuana without providing any details. Josee Bellemare, however, admitted the existing rules do not specify where medical marijuana users can light up.

“The authorized person is advised in an information package not to consume controlled substances in a public place and not to expose others to any effects related to the inhalation of secondary smoke,” said Bellemare.

Ted Kindos, the owner of Ted’s Tap and Grill in Burlington, Ont., is facing a human rights complaint for asking a medical marijuana smoker not to light up outside his business. Kindos is frustrated by the tension between liquor laws and rights given medical marijuana users. He has turned to the Federal Court to require Health Canada to expressly condition any medical marijuana permits upon compliance with provincial liquor licensing laws.

“I don’t have any qualms with them smoking it as long as there is no affect on a small business to jeopardize a license that has been put in place,” he said.

Amateur Ottawa comedian Russell Barth, who has filed a human rights complaint against the Ontario government, said he was pleased with the province’s move, but doubted the federal government would act to clarify the rules.

“There is no reason I should not be allowed to alleviate my symptoms in the same place people are using tobacco for habit, addiction and pleasure,” said Barth.

– Article from CanWest News Service.

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