Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, received first reading on Thursday April 13. The bill will ban smoking of “cannabis” in places where smoking of tobacco is banned. The bill can be seen here:
Clauses 162 to 164 of the bill, on pages 97-98, will prohibit smoking of cannabis wherever smoking is banned pursuant to the federal Non-smokers’ Health Act. The Non-smokers’ Health Act applies to places under federal jurisdiction including about 10% of workers in Canada, including in federal government buildings and property, federal public service, RCMP, armed forces including armed forces bases, federal Crown Corporations (eg Canada Post), national parks and national heritage sites, communications (eg Bell Canada), broadcasting (TV, radio), transportation (including planes, trains, intercity buses, ferries, airports, train and bus stations, ports), fisheries, nuclear facilities, grain elevators, and other.
The bill will ban smoking of “cannabis” in places where smoking of tobacco is banned. It would have been simpler, more effective and easier to enforce had the bill banned smoking of anything wherever smoking is banned. Quebec, NB and NS and a series of municipalities including Vancouver and others have adopted this approach – banning smoking of anything wherever smoking is banned.
One of the problems with specifically banning smoking of “cannabis”, instead of banning smoking of anything, is that it raises an enforcement issue – it appears that there will need to be evidence and proof that what the person was smoking was actually cannabis.
Bill C-45 also fails to correct a deficiency regarding the Non-smokers’ Health Act. The NsHA does not apply outdoors, not even to building entrance ways, or to a beach, picnic area or children’s playground in a national park, or to a sports field or children’s playground on an armed forces base. Thus under the current wording of Bill C-45, it would be allowed for someone to smoke cannabis at the entrance way to most federal government buildings and federally regulated workplaces, as well as on Cavendish Beach in PEI (a national park), a family picnic area in a national park, and many other places under federal jurisdiction. One example among others is Lebreton Flats in Ottawa, which is federal National Capital Commission property – city of Ottawa bylaws prohibiting smoking at municipal parks do not apply to federal property. Thus under the current wording of Bill C-45, people could legally smoke marijuana (or tobacco) at the annual Bluesfest music event held at Lebreton Flats, resulting in second-hand smoke affecting other people. This type of example would be similar to other examples across Canada.
Bill C-45 should be amended to give the government regulatory authority to prohibit smoking in specified outdoor areas, as well as in vehicles with kids. Provincial laws banning smoking in vehicles with kids do not to apply federal government property or roadways – examples of this in the City of Ottawa include Colonel By Drive, the Queen Elizabeth Driveway, the Western Parkway.
More provinces and municipalities are banning smoking in specified outdoor areas. The federal government should catch-up for areas within federal jurisdiction. The NsHA, which was adopted in 1988 -89, is out of date.
Clause 189 of Bill C-45 on pages 107-109 has some coordinating provisions given that Bill S-5 will prohibit e-cigarette use in places where smoking is banned under the NsHA. Depending on which bill (Bill S-5 or Bill C-45) is first adopted, certain coordinating provisions apply.
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