Gananoque council moves to ban public pot smoking
Gananoque Mayor Erika Demchuk says if you want to smoke up in her town- you better not do it in public.
"Do we really want to see somebody walking down the street smoking on a joint of marijuana? That's certainly not what I want to see on the main street of town" says Demchuk.
The outgoing mayor of 8 years and her council voted Tuesday to ban consuming cannabis in public, like alcohol. The vote to pass the by-law is November 20.
"We're not allowed to walk down the street with a bottle of beer in our hand or a cocktail" says the mayor.
While Demchuk insists this is the right move for her town, area residents seem split. "It should be like smoking a cigarette, you should be allowed, wherever you can smoke, you can smoke." says area resident Bob Winters.
"They went through the problems to legalize it so I think you should be able to smoke it outside just the same as you can sit in your backyard and have a beer" argues Rick Soper.
Others disagree, Bradley Garrah saying "It just got legalized so maybe eventually it can be - but not right now." and "I think it's good if it stays indoors because, you know, not a good smell and you can get the after- high and it is just nice to keep it away from the public." says resident Jacob Serson.
Demchuk, a grandmother, is the outgoing mayor but says this issue is bigger than politics.
The town of Markham moved quickly following the legalization of pot to ban its use in public. Frank Scarpitti says the decision to treat cannabis use like alcohol has been praised by residents "I can tell you that even some people who supported cannabis being legalized did not want to see the consumption of cannabis throughout the community - so it's been a very positive reaction for us."
Demchuk says she's supported the idea of banning cigarette smoking from public places, including parks, and areas with children like arenas. She says cannabis needs to be dealt with like a drug "Cannabis is a drug and you might argue that nicotine is a drug as well but i think it's a different drug."
Not everyone on incoming council agrees with the cannabis public space ban "From most people I talk to we need to get with the times and move forward with it" says councillor-elect Matt Harper.
Harper says attitudes against pot need to change and the same could happen with booze. Harper, new mayor Ted Lojko and the all-new council will be sworn in December 3 and could reverse the controversial by-law ban. A survey of residents on cannabis is currently being conducted; its results will be released in a few weeks.