519-744-4491 Linkedin Logo Twitter Logo

Madorin, Snyder LLP has rebranded and is now Bennett Grant LLP. We are a full service law firm based in Kitchener and Listowel serving clients throughout Ontario.


Do you Mind if I Smoke?

Cannabis will be decriminalized on October 17, 2018, and on the eve of legalization the rules about where cannabis may be consumed are poised to change.  The proposed changes highlight interesting policy choices made by the PC and Liberal governments of Ontario. 


As I write this, the applicable rules are those passed by the previous Liberal government as they appear in the Cannabis Act 2017 and Smoke Free Ontario Act, 2017.  Liberal policy as reflected in those Acts was to treat the public consumption of recreational cannabis like the consumption of alcohol, only with even more restrictions:  The consumption of recreational cannabis in any form is prohibited in any workplace, public place, or in any vehicle.


The PC government has introduced Bill 36 - Cannabis Statute Law Amendment Act, 2018 to amend the Cannabis Act 2017 and Smoke Free Ontario Act, 2017.  PC government policy as reflected in Bill 36 generally treats the consumption of recreational cannabis like tobacco:  The smoking of recreational cannabis is generally permitted anywhere you could smoke a cigarette, except in motor vehicles.    


Should Cannabis Be Regulated Like Alcohol or Tobacco? 


The consumption of alcohol in public is generally prohibited in Canada and the United States.  The traditional rationale for prohibiting drinking in public is that it is needed to help maintain public order.  The prohibition is thought to discourage the overconsumption of alcohol in the first place, and it tends to reduce the anti-social behavior that can accompany public intoxication.   


The modern restrictions on the smoking of tobacco are driven by the health concerns of non-smokers.  It is generally accepted that second-hand smoke is a carcinogen, and the objective of the Smoke Free Ontario Act is to prevent non-smokers from being exposed to tobacco smoke. 


To me, cannabis is unlike alcohol in the sense that it does not pose a particular threat to public order.  Smoking a joint does not put you on the pathway to public mayhem the same way as submerging yourself in a bathtub full of purple jesus, or so my acquaintances tell me.  From that perspective, the PC policy of treating cannabis like tobacco makes sense. 


An Employer's Perspective  


In the context of the workplace, however, cannabis is just like alcohol because they raise similar issues concerning impairment, safety, job performance, drug testing, and human rights.  These issues will come up regardless of rules regarding consumption.  But one virtue of the Liberal policy is that it would tend to minimize the consumption of recreational cannabis to the extent that was possible through restrictions on where you could smoke, vape, or eat cannabis.  If the overall levels of consumption of cannabis are reduced, then it is stands to reason that workplace issues concerning cannabis would be reduced somewhat too.  If the PC policy of liberalizing the rules concerning consumption of recreational cannabis tend to increase the consumption of cannabis overall, employers may find themselves feeling hungover. 


Frank Carere is a labour and employment lawyer at Madorin, Snyder LLP in Kitchener.  It was previously published in the Grand Valley Construction Association Journal and is republished with permission.  This article should not be relied on as legal advice

Subscribe to this Blog Like on Facebook Tweet this! Share on LinkedIn


Bennett Grant LLP
October 26, 2020
show Bennett's posts
Edward Dreyer
February 4, 2020
show Edward's posts
James Bennett
September 16, 2019
show James's posts
Frank Carere
November 30, 2018
show Frank's posts
Christopher Clemmer
December 27, 2017
show Christopher's posts
Rob Bickle
December 1, 2017
show Rob's posts
Filipe Mendes
November 9, 2017
show Filipe's posts
Stephen Grant
November 1, 2017
show Stephen's posts

Latest Posts

Show All Recent Posts



Everything Family Law Construction Law New Legislation Insurance Law Employment Law Home Renovations Employment Termination Marriage Interest Overdue Accounts McKee Scaramucci Misconduct Holdback Construction Lien Act Medical Assistance in Dying Canada George Lochead Judicial Committee of the Privy Council Court of Appeal Winter Highway Maintenance Standards Building Code Act The Elliot Lake Inquiry Partnership Admission to Partnership Bills of Exchange Act Joint Cheques Coulter A. Osborne Award James H. Bennett Construction Lien Amendment Act Bill 142 Escalator Clauses Steel Prices Cannabis Bill 36 Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act autonomous vehicles driverless vehicle symposium september 13 2019 municipal defence lawyer Adjudicator Construction Terminate Contract Liability Policy Commercial General Liability Insurance