Gan to ban pub­lic pot

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - FRONT PAGE - WAYNE LOWRIE wlowrie@post­media.com

GANANOQUE – If you want to light up a joint in town, you’d bet­ter do it be­hind closed doors.

Oth­er­wise, you might be vi­o­lat­ing a new town by­law that pro­hibits smok­ing weed in pub­lic places.

Town coun­cil on Tues­day de­cided to ban cannabis con­sump­tion in pub­lic places fol­low­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion from Po­lice Chief Garry Hull.

Es­sen­tially, the by­law rec­om­mended by Hull would see mar­i­juana sub­ject to the same rules as al­co­hol.

Un­der the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment’s Cannabis Statute Law Amend­ment Act, cannabis-smok­ing rules are the same as those of the Smoke Free On­tario Act. In other words, any­where you can smoke to­bacco, you could also smoke weed, in­clud­ing on the side­walk, in the park and in cars and boats with sleep­ing ac­com­mo­da­tions that are parked or an­chored.

Gananoque’s by­law – en­dorsed by coun­cil on Tues­day but it must still be passed at a meet­ing on Nov. 20 – treats cannabis the same as booze un­der the Liquor Li­cens­ing Act.

You can’t stroll down the street suck­ing back a beer; nor would you be able to suck on a joint un­der Gananoque’s by­law.

The by­law pro­hibits smok­ing or va­p­ing cannabis in pub­lic places, which it de­fines as “any place to which the pub­lic has ac­cess as a right or in­vi­ta­tion, ex­press or im­plied, re­gard­less of whether it is owned by a pub­lic or pri­vate en­tity, and any mo­tor ve­hi­cle lo­cated in a pub­lic place or in any place open to pub­lic view.”

Specif­i­cally, pot smok­ing would be banned in parks, trails and na­ture ar­eas; in all park­ing lots; in town-owned fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing the arena, com­mu­nity cen­tres; mari­nas, beaches, roads, side­walks, schools day­cares, re­tail and com­mer­cial busi­nesses.

Hull said it makes sense to treat cannabis the same as al­co­hol, rather than like to­bacco.

The by­law would pro­vide the town with a base for en­force­ment, and a fu­ture coun­cil could re­lax the rules later if it wanted, he said.

Hull pre­dicted that the prov­ince might loosen its liquor laws in the fu­ture to al­low more drink­ing in pub­lic places. If that hap­pens, the town’s cannabis rules would fol­low suit.

The chief said the Gananoque by­law is sim­i­lar to one passed by the City of Markham on Oct. 17, the day that recre­ational cannabis be­came le­gal.

It makes sense for a town of Gananoque’s size that has a lot of tourists, he added.

The by­law en­dorsed by coun­cil on Tues­day didn’t in­clude the pro­posed penal­ties. Shellee Fournier, chief ad­min­is­tra­tive of­fi­cer, said coun­cil would be asked later to adopt a sched­ule of fines for con­tra­ven­ing the by­law.

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