Blackburn News – Adelle Loiselle – July 4 2018
The owner of a Windsor cannabis lounge is relieved the province is putting rules that would have made his business illegal on hold.
Changes to the Ontario Smoke-Free Act would have made it illegal for medicinal cannabis users to light up in public spaces, including workplaces. The change conflicts with other legislation requiring employers to accommodate workers who use cannabis medicinally.
Jon Liedtke at Higher Limits feared he would have to defy the law.
“I have an obligation under the Ontario Human Rights Act to ensure that my customers and staff are able to take their medication, but the Ontario Smoke-Free Act sought to prohibit medical marijuana being used in a workplace,” says Liedtke. “I wasn’t going to tell anyone not to take their medicine, and we were going to see how things rolled out from there.”
The new smoking rules came into effect July 1, but within days the new Progressive Conservative government put it on hold while it reviews the new legislation.
Liedtke wonders if the courts will have to decide what takes precedence; the rights of people to be protected from second-hand smoke, or the rights of medical marijuana users.
“Balancing these competing interests off is going to be difficult. Eventually, it’ll be done by the courts if the government moves forward with trying to limit where medical marijuana users can use their medication,” he says.
Liedtke says he was prepared for a fight, but will instead shift his efforts towards lobbying the new government.
“We have an association that we’re a part of, Sensible Ontario,” explains Liedtke. “We’re going to ramp up our efforts now speaking with government — demonstrating to them what we would like to see which is regulated cannabis consumption lounges where we not only have consumption on-site but also potentially sale on-site.”
The Ontario Smoke-Free Act replaces the previous bill and replaces the E-Cigarette Smoke Act. It also outlaws vaping in public spaces.