Ontario restaurants relieved medical marijuana users must take it elsewhere

New legislation in Ontario will force users of medical marijuana to take their cigarettes and other devices to designated smoking areas, and restaurants in particular are thankful.

“We’re very happy the Ministry (of Health) went down this road,” said James Rilett, Vice President of Restaurants Canada, told Humber News. Rilett’s organization is a not-for-profit association representing Canada’s diverse and dynamic restaurant and food service industry.

Rilett said that the existing laws surrounding medical cigarettes and vaporizers put Restaurants Canada members in a tough spot.

Medicinal marijuana users will be barred from smoking or vaping in most public spaces.

“It puts employees in a position where they have to choose between their health and doing their job,” Rilett said.

A motion to ban vaping and smoking of medically-sanctioned marijuana in public spaces was approved by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet Wednesday afternoon, with the hope of curbing illness and deaths from second-hand smoke.

A spokesperson for Wynne said to the Star that they hoped the bill would “strengthen . . . smoking laws to better protect people from second-smoke, whether from a tobacco product or medical marijuana.”

Ontario’s Associate Health Minister Dipika Damerla addressed the issue in a conference Thursday, saying the the new laws would be applied in “enclosed spaces” like restaurants, the majority of outdoor areas and workplaces.

Dimerla said in press release on the ministry’s website that it’s a matter of public safety.

“It is important to ensure that Ontarians are protected from second-hand smoke and from the potential dangers of e-cigarettes. That is why we are proposing these changes and we look forward to the upcoming consultations with our stakeholders.”

Antonio Folino, the catering manager at the Humber Room restaurant at the college’s North campus in Toronto, said that personal preferences shouldn’t be allowed to affect his business – or health.

“Why is it in the hospitality industry, your personal problem becomes my issue?” Folino told Humber News.

The Humber Room is a restaurant located in the main concourse of the North Campus.

“If you feel you need to smoke some medicinal cigarette or marijuana, why do I have to endure that smell because you have that problem?”

Folino said that it raises concerns about the health of fellow employees as well.

“It’s going to cause health issues for me now, having to smell that and breathe that.”

It’s unclear how and when the legislation will be enforced, but sources the ministry expects it to come into effect within the year.