Bill 25–The Non-Smokers Health Protection and Vapour Products Amendment Act - prohibiting Cannabis Consumption in indoor and outdoor public places - and the world of uncertainty which lies ahead
Thursday May 31, I spoke to Bill 25 which prohibits the use of cannabis in indoor or outdoor public spaces. My comments (from Hansard) are below.
Hon. Jon Gerrard (River Heights): Madam Speaker, this bill is about regulating where people can smoke or use cannabis. And, in fact, the bill that the minister brings in will make it illegal to use cannabis in outdoor public places. There are a lot of uncertainties. We believe that it's necessary to have some framework, and we will actually support this legislation, but there are some critical questions here.
One of these: Is somebody who uses medical marijuana, cannabis, going to be treated exactly the same in terms of where they can use it, as everybody else? And, if the answer is yes, it may be very difficult for somebody who uses medical marijuana, as they're travelling around the province, because they're not going to be spending all that much time when they're travelling around in their own home.
The second question, which is an important one, is what happens with 4/20 here at the Legislature, as an example? What kind of approach is the minister going to use in terms of 4/20, whether this is going to be legal or illegal activity.
The third issue, which has been raised, and that is: What happens with somebody who's living in a building which they don't own–not their own home. People are going to be able to use it [cannabis] in their own home, but, if you don't own your own home, and you're in a multi-unit apartment building, what's the status?
The MLA for Minto is quite right that the words that the minister says are very important in the way his bill will be interpreted as things proceed. And it was for that reason that I listened very closely to the minister's remarks throughout the whole debate.
And, of course, we had quite an opportunity to ask questions of the minister. The question was: What happens about buildings which are rental multi-units and people don't own them? And I recorded the minister's response. He says: "There needs to be more discussion about where those in multi-dwelling units can smoke." The Minister gives no clue as to where they can smoke, but there's more discussion coming.
We tried, again, to ask the question, and the next answer was: "Well, we're not at that point of consideration" –straight from Hansard. We don't know where we're going, but we're going there.
The next point was, you know, we tried to pin him down and, you know, is he going to make any decisions? But then the answer was oh, we don't know where we're going, but the "law enforcement will use their discretion." Oh.
And, then, following that–trying to pursue that line of law enforcement, the answer was: Well, I'm not really going to answer that–from the minister–"I think the member's drifting a little into areas that are more Justice than Health." Oh. Boy, he really wriggled.
And then we tried one more time to pin him down, and–[interjection]
Madam Speaker: Order.
Mr. Gerrard: –his final answer was: Well, I don't know what I'm doing, but "I will never say never." And we thank the minister for his guidance, and we look forward to this passage of this bill. But we also [know there is a] the world of uncertainty which still lies ahead.