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Protecting People in Ontario from the Health Impacts of Cannabis

Archived Backgrounder

Protecting People in Ontario from the Health Impacts of Cannabis

Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care

In response to the federal government's plan to legalize cannabis in July 2018, Ontario's new legislation is informed by the province's experience in managing tobacco and alcohol, as well as lessons from other jurisdictions that have recently legalized cannabis. 

Recreational versus medical cannabis

 Ontario's legislation will regulate the use of recreational and medical cannabis separately, as each has different purposes and considerations.

Medical cannabis is obtained for health-related purposes in accordance with applicable federal law. Because this type of cannabis is a form of medical treatment, and requires authorization by a health care practitioner, it should be considered from a health perspective. 

In addition, individuals who use medical cannabis may need to use their medication in places where the use of recreational cannabis is not permitted. 

 Where recreational cannabis can be consumed

To protect the health and well-being of all people in Ontario -- particularly children and youth -- the province is restricting the use of recreational cannabis in a similar way to alcohol.

Under Ontario's cannabis legislation, it will only be legal to use recreational cannabis in private residences. People will not be allowed to use any form of recreational cannabis in public places, workplaces or when inside a motor vehicle.

This approach will allow people in Ontario, especially children and youth, to continue to enjoy public spaces like local parks.

Where medical cannabis can be smoked or vaped

To further protect the public from exposure to second-hand smoke and vapour, the province is regulating the smoking and vaping of medical cannabis under the new Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017.

The smoking and vaping of medical cannabis, and the use of electronic cigarettes, will not be allowed in enclosed workplaces, enclosed public places and other areas where tobacco smoking is currently banned.

Ontario is also proposing a regulation that would prohibit the smoking of tobacco, the use of electronic cigarettes, and the smoking and vaping of medical cannabis in additional public spaces.

Limited exemptions for smoking and vaping medical cannabis are included in the legislation, similar to those currently in place for the smoking of tobacco. Places covered by these exemptions would include controlled rooms in residential care facilities, designated psychiatric facilities, designated veterans' facilities, scientific research and testing facilities, and designated guest rooms in hotels, motels and inns.  There is also an exemption for medical cannabis smoking and vaping in residential hospices.

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