(BlackburnNews.com file photo by Jason Viau)

New cannabis legislation loosens rules on where pot can be smoked

Ontario residents who were hoping to fire up a joint in an outdoor public space once the drug becomes legal next month can breathe out a puff of relief.

The Progressive Conservative government introduced legislation on Thursday that, if passed, will expand the rules for where recreational pot can be smoked. As of legalization on October 17, anyone 19 years old or older will be able to smoke or vape the drug wherever the smoking of tobacco is permitted.

The legislation loosens the rules introduced by the previous Liberal government, which had restricted pot smoking to private residences, including apartment buildings and outdoor areas such as decks, porches and yards.

The bill also states that the province’s private cannabis retail marketplace will be regulated by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, which will have the power to grant licences to sell the recreational drug.  The commission will also have the ability to revoke licences if necessary.

The province has stated that it will not put a cap on the number of stores that will be allowed to sell pot in Ontario.  Anyone looking to sell cannabis in their store will have to apply for the appropriate licences.

Ontario municipalities will also be given the opportunity to opt-out of pot stores in their communities. The deadline to opt-out has been set for January 22, 2019, three months after the municipal elections.