Gananoque, Ont., adopts tough rules on smoking pot outside

Smoking marijuana in any public place in Gananoque, Ont., will come with a hefty fine under new rules the community has passed.

Community will prohibit smoking pot in public

New rules in Gananoque, Ont., will prohibit anyone from smoking marijuana outside. (Martin Ouellet-Diotte/AFP/Getty Images)

Smoking marijuana in any public place in Gananoque, Ont., will come with a hefty fine under new rules the community has passed.

Ontario already prevents anyone from smoking marijuana anywhere they can't smoke tobacco, but the provincial legislation allows municipalities to adopt tougher rules.

Erika Demchuk, the town's outgoing mayor, said they decided to align their cannabis rules with the rules around public drinking.

"You can't walk down the street and drink a beer, and so you can't walk down the street and smoke cannabis," she said.

The fine for drinking alcohol in public in Ontario is $100, and that will be the same for smoking cannabis in town, Demchuk said.

Demchuk said the town's staff and police chief looked at the options and felt matching the two rules made the most sense.

While she decided not to run for re-election, Demchuk said she believed the incoming mayor will be comfortable with the decision.

'Things will settle' 

Mitchell Kosny, the interim director of Ryerson University's school of urban and regional planning, said there's no need for towns to bring in tougher rules right off the bat.

"We are bright enough as people that we can have some degree of self-regulation," Kosny said. "I think if you give it some time things will settle."

He said the province may want to step in and establish a common standard, rather than have a potential patchwork of rules from one community to the next.

"Otherwise, it just feels like it is going to be all over the place," Kosny said. "And I don't think that is good for anybody."

No decision on stores yet

Gananoque has not decided if it will opt out of having a cannabis store in town.

A survey of the community is currently underway, Demchuk said, and the new council will have to make a decision sometime early next year.

Despite the new rules around public smoking, Demchuk said she sees no reason why the town shouldn't have a store.

"I have been honest with people. I think it would be remiss of Gananoque to opt out of having a cannabis store," she said.

"I think it would be putting blinders on to say we are not going to have it here."

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