Wynne shares medical pot vaping concerns

kathleen wynne

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Kathleen Wynne says she would “have a problem” with someone vaporizing medical marijuana next to her in a movie theatre.

The Ontario premier’s comments come after a week in which her government quietly exempted medical marijuana users from an e-cigarette law, then appeared to backpedal one day after the move came to light.

“We’re going to go back to the drawing board on this regulation,” Wynne said Saturday after giving a speech to the Ontario Liberal party’s provincial council meeting.

“We heard the concerns and I have a lot of sympathy with the concerns that have been raised, even though this exemption exists in other jurisdictions.”

The law that bans the use of e-cigarettes anywhere regular cigarettes are prohibited — and the new medical marijuana exemption — is set to come into effect Jan. 1.

The government is now reconsidering the exemption after some members of the public raised concerns that medical marijuana users could vaporize in restaurants, at work, on playgrounds or in other public spaces.

Wynne was asked Saturday what she would do if someone used an e-cigarette to smoke medical marijuana next to her in a movie theatre.

“I think I would have a problem with it, so I think we need to think this through,” she said.

Associate Health Minister Dipika Damerla has said employers or restaurant owners could still ban medical marijuana users from vaporizing on the premises.

Jonathan Zaid, the founder of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, has said medical cannabis users tend to be discreet, so most likely won’t be lighting up in a public area.

Zaid, who uses medical marijuana to treat chronic headaches, said for users such as himself it’s medication that lets them have a better quality of life.

The regulations define a vaporizer as an electronic cigarette or other device that contains a power source and heating element that’s designed to heat a substance to produce a vapour to be inhaled through the mouth.

Wynne’s speech to the Liberal meeting followed a closed session with former premier Dalton McGuinty on his new book. He did not gloss over the troubles he faced, Wynne said.

“No one in that room underestimates the challenges of the issues that he confronted,” Wynne said. The Ontario Provincial Police are still investigating two scandals from McGuinty’s tenure — financial irregularities at the Ornge air ambulance service and the deletion of government documents on the decision to cancel two planned gas plants.

“No one underestimates the impact of those on our party and on him as a person,” Wynne said. “But he overcame them, he dealt with them, he made decisions and moved forward.”

Those scandals seemed not to weigh on the party members — and some MPPs — who lined up for signed copies of McGuinty’s book and posed for photos with him.

Wynne lent her own endorsement too, thanking him in her speech for his “leadership, vision, insight, decency and personal support.”

She said she “wept” the day McGuinty shuffled her out as education minister, but it ended up being “the single most important thing he could have done to get me ready for this job.”

Wynne was set to leave Saturday night for Paris, where she is attending the climate change summit with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the other premiers.

She will return to Ontario after two days then head back to the summit in Paris the following weekend.

The UN is offering a way for all participants to purchase carbon offsets at the summit venue and the Ontario delegation will take advantage of that, said a spokeswoman for the premier.