Experts react to medical marijuana vaporizer exemption in Ontario

Nov 26, 2015 | News

Giancarlo Di Peco and Marino Greco

The news that Ontario medical marijuana users can now use vaporizers almost anywhere in the province sparked reaction on Thursday.

Jose Lanca, a professor who studies the pharmacology of alcoholism and drug addiction at the University of Toronto, said the news is good for those who rely on medical marijuana.

However, that doesn’t mean people should be allowed to smoke in any situation, he said.

“If you take a pill, it’s not going to have an impact on anyone else. If you think it is alright to smoke with other people around you then why is it illegal to smoke in a closed space?,” Lanca told Humber News on Thursday.

Because of the nature of marijuana and the potential for abuse it is essential for medical users to carry documentation, he said.

“The person should really be able to provide the required information that use of that compound is within the medical boundaries and not simply smoking an illegal substance,” he said.

Under the new exemption in Ontario from the law banning e-cigarettes, restaurants and employers are still free to prohibit people from vaping on their premises.

Jonathan Zaid, the executive director of Canadians for Fair Access to Medical Marijuana, said employers need to consider the needs of patients.

“Restaurants are one thing but I think when we look at employers they have a duty to accommodate based on regulations in the same way about any medical conditions,” said Zaid, whose organization is based in Waterloo, Ont.

Zaid met with the Ontario Ministry of Health to discuss exempting medical marijuana vaporizers.

“There have never been any regulations pertaining to medical marijuana or vapors so no one really talked about it so this is the first time – it’s a big deal,” he told Humber News.

Lanca, meanwhile, stressed that the distinction between recreational and medical marijuana should be clear and that in talking about it, people should treat it as a serious health issue.

“If we want to treat it as a medical approach to benefit the well-being of a patient we have to treat it in a professional way,” he said.

“You cannot have it both ways – if anybody were to make a joke about somebody that has to take medication for cancer, schizophrenia or depression that person would have to apologize.”