Smoking legal pot could still get you fined

Clean Air Bylaw will begin issuing fines for vaping, tobacco and cannabis in Victoria’s public spaces

As cannabis legalization is a mere 16 days away, Oct. 1 also brings new rules for smoking (any substance) in Victoria’s public spaces.

The Clean Air Bylaw in the Capital Regional District was amended in April to including vaping and smoking marijuana on the same level as smoking tobacco in public spaces. In Victoria, people will not be able to smoke or vape tobacco, vape juice or marijuana in public areas like parks, beaches and playgrounds or within seven metres of doorways, windows, bus stops or air intakes. It includes outside patios where drinks and food are served.

In September, CRD began issuing warning tickets for the new, more general bylaw. Now, $100 fines will follow as of Oct. 1.

READ MORE: Pot and vape smoke now face same regulations as tobacco in CRD

Dr. Richard Stanwick, who works with Island Health, said, “The intent of the bylaw is to provide clean air to the general public. People say this is restricting the rights of other people. Well, the right actually is to clean air… We’re not stopping you from engaging in it, what we’re doing is specifying where it can’t be done.

“Adults have the right to make their own decisions. What we really want to make sure is the public makes an informed decision,” Stanwick said.

There are several health concerns behind the bylaw. Because cannabis isn’t a legal substance yet, Stanwick said there isn’t much data available on the benefits and risks of marijuana smoke. What they do know is, like alcohol, there is a psychoactive effect from ingesting (or inhaling) marijuana. Cannabis smoke can also restrict airways and blood vessels. Then there are the cancer-causing agents in the smoke, in which Stanwick said a California study found 33 substances classified as carcinogens.

“The other piece of concern is the fine particles that are generated by the smoking of marijuana that can find their way deep into the lung,” Stanwick said. He added the habit of inhaling deeply and holding in breath could draw the particles deep into the lungs and into the bloodstream, which could react with the lining of blood vessels. “There’s a good likelihood you’re going to see an increase in heart attacks and strokes as a result of this smoking. Is it as bad as tobacco smoke in terms of cancer-causing agents? No. Is it harmless? Absolutely not,” he said.

The benefit of legalization, Stanwick said, is there will be more studies on the effects of smoking cannabis. People will also be able to know without a doubt what exactly they’re smoking, with less likelihood of inhaling pesticides, herbicides or other toxins once the substance is federally regulated.

Even vapes, which Stanwick stressed are not federally regulated, are not harmless.

“There are still chemicals in the ones supposedly lacking nicotine that still can be harmful,” he said. “Particularly since these devices burn hotter, they can actually produce higher levels of heavy metals, which again you don’t want to breathe in, than cigarettes.”

Stanwick said as more people may start smoking in public after Oct. 17, many may not know the bylaws already in place. Good signage in such public areas, he said, will be critical. Bylaw officers will start by trying to educate the smoker on the new restrictions, and only fine someone if they continue to defy the rules.

READ MORE: Victoria looking into cannabis lounge options as legalization approaches

keili.bartlett@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Striking Western Forest Products workers willing to ‘modify position’ if talks progress

Brian Butler, USW 1-1937 president, says union and WFP to meet Thursday, Dec. 12

Dogs and cat rescued in house fire in south Nanaimo

Section of Old Victoria Road was closed to traffic Tuesday afternoon

Judge’s decision set for January in dangerous driving trial for crash that left Saanich girl unresponsive

Tenessa Nikirk is charged with one count of dangerous driving after Leila Bui was struck in 2017

Victoria ranked ‘most bikeable’ city in Canada

Real estate brokerage Redfin releases inaugural bike score ratings

Dogs and cat rescued in house fire in south Nanaimo

Section of Old Victoria Road was closed to traffic Tuesday afternoon

Salmonella outbreak in Canada linked to rodents and snakes

92 cases of salmonella across six provinces, including B.C.

Meng Wanzhou wins right to more documents involving arrest at Vancouver airport

Defence lawyers allege the Huawei executive was unlawfully detained, searched and interrogated

Victoria looks to suspend taxi obligations as ride hailing services arrive

Ten ride hailing companies are set to come to Greater Victoria in the new year

Preliminary inquiry ahead for man who fled Canada prior to double attempted murder trial

Sebastien Normandin, 49, accused of trying to run ex-girlfriend and her partner down with his car

Courtenay church receives offers to replace stolen Christmas tree

Faith Lutheran had planned to use a fir tree on its property this season

BC Ferries adds 170 extra sailings for the holidays

6 a.m. and 10 p.m. sailings added for busy season

Man allegedly behind Greater Victoria restaurant thefts arrested

Jason Perry is expected in court on Dec. 10

Truck with body inside found at bottom of lake near Kootenay ferry

Investigators believe no foul play is expected but are unsure how the vehicle ended up in the Arrow Lakes

Most Read