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Manitoba outlines where medical users can toke outdoors

Health Minister Cameron Friesen says the government will accommodate medical marijuana users by allowing them to smoke pot in public places – with some restrictions.

Beginning Oct. 17, when recreational cannabis is legalized in Canada, medical marijuana users in Manitoba will have similar outdoor smoking rights to tobacco users.

Medical cannabis users will be permitted to smoke or vape medical cannabis in outdoor public places, except as follows:

 Within eight metres of a building to which the public has access;

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Health Minister Cameron Friesen says the government will accommodate medical marijuana users by allowing them to smoke pot in public places – with some restrictions.

Beginning Oct. 17, when recreational cannabis is legalized in Canada, medical marijuana users in Manitoba will have similar outdoor smoking rights to tobacco users.

Brennan Linsley / The Associated Press Files</p><p>The provincial government will accommodate medical marijuana users by allowing them to smoke pot in public places with some restrictions.</p>

Brennan Linsley / The Associated Press Files

The provincial government will accommodate medical marijuana users by allowing them to smoke pot in public places with some restrictions.

Medical cannabis users will be permitted to smoke or vape medical cannabis in outdoor public places, except as follows:

 Within eight metres of a building to which the public has access;

 On (or within eight metres of) a restaurant or bar patio or deck;

 At a stadium or outdoor entertainment venue, or within eight metres of those venues;

 In a wading pool, splash pad or water park, or within eight metres of those locations;

 In or within eight metres of a playground;

 On a public beach; and

 In bus shacks or other similar structures to which the public has access, or within eight metres of such structures.

Friesen said the province continues to prioritize public safety as it readies Manitobans for the legalization of cannabis sales and use. However, it also recognizes that "some people need access to medication."

The minister said he believes the province’s accommodations to medical users of cannabis are "reasonable" and would survive a court challenge.

He said, unlike the assortment of setback distances for outdoor tobacco consumption, the province has harmonized the distances for medical marijuana consumers.

"We wanted to make this as consistent as possible to give confidence to law enforcement officials so that they would feel like they could actually be effective in keeping a standard," Friesen told reporters at the legislative building Tuesday.

Ashleigh Brown, founder of the national medical cannabis group SheCann, said she is "cautiously optimistic" that the government is making an effort to acknowledge the needs of medical cannabis users.

"The move by the government today to acknowledge that medical cannabis patients should have some right to consume their cannabis by smoking or vaping is a positive step forward in identifying the unique needs of medical cannabis patients in Manitoba," she said Tuesday.

However, the government still needs to continue to be educated on the consumption needs of patients and to make accommodations accordingly, Brown said.

"This is a step in the right direction," she said. "However, it’s not ultimately going to be sufficient accommodation for every medical patient in the province. It will still pose a challenge for people who have limited mobility and who are in situations where they require immediate access to their medication."

Recreational cannabis users will be prohibited from smoking and vaping in outdoor public places, including: streets and sidewalks, parks and beaches, school grounds, restaurant patios and decks, the grounds of health care facilities, and any additional places that may be specified by regulation.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature Reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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