OPS gives residents advice on now-legal use of cannabis

October 22, 2018   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

With the legalization of using recreational cannabis coming into effect yesterday (Oct. 17), the Orangeville Police Service is keen to remind residents of their rights as the country ushers in the dawn of a new era.

Addressing the media, Police Chief Wayne Kalinski assured residents that the local service was prepared for this monumental change. He went on record to highlight exactly what locals can and cannot do under the new legislation.

“The new legislation … represents a significant change for our society,” Chief Kalinski said. “We want to ensure that the rights and safety of everyone is respected.”

With the official passing of the federal government’s Cannabis Act, anyone aged 19 and older will be able to buy, possess, use and grow recreational cannabis. Until further legislation is passed, legally purchasing cannabis in this province will be limited to online purchases through the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS). The new industry is expected to be privatized by April of 2019.

Individuals will be able to lawfully purchase up to 30 grams of dried recreational cannabis at one time for personal use. Through the OCS, Canadians can also purchase a variety of oils and capsules, while they can also purchase pre-rolled cannabis products. Individuals will be allowed to lawfully possess a maximum of 30 grams of dried cannabis in public at any time, while growing of cannabis is limited to four plants per residence.

Lawfully smoking or vaping either recreational or medical cannabis in public is limited to the provisions of the Smoke Free Ontario Act and any municipal bylaws that currently govern the use of tobacco. Orangeville has an outdoor smoking bylaw, implemented in 2012, that prohibits smoking in many public spaces, including any lanes, Town buildings, parking lots, public place, public transit vehicle, recreational sports field, trail, path or workplace. Additionally, the use of cannabis is prohibited within 20 metres of any school or playground.

Impaired driving laws remain unchanged. Chief Kalinski notes that If anyone is found to be driving impaired by alcohol or any drug, including cannabis, they risk facing penalties such as an immediate license suspension, vehicle impoundment, criminal record, jail time and financial penalties. Novice and commercial drivers will not be allowed to have any cannabis in their system while driving.

Current recommendations from the evidence-based Canadian Low Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines suggests that people should not drive for at least six hours after consuming cannabis. However, the wait time can be longer depending on the user and the properties of the specific cannabis product used. Currently, there are no definitive answers for the maximum level of THC – the substance in cannabis that provides the high – a person can reach until they are considered impaired, or how law enforcement can test drivers on the roadside to determine whether they are impaired as a result of cannabis use.

The Wellington Dufferin Guelph Public Health Group (WDGPHG) announced this week that it will be ramping up its efforts to educate the public about possible health implications that come with consuming cannabis. The organization will be sharing short videos on its social media platforms focusing on key health messages about the recreational drug.

“WDG Public Health isn’t opposing cannabis legalization, but there is now a large corporate interest in promoting cannabis,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO of WDGPHG. “Messages about the potential for mental health impacts, addiction and overuse, driving impaired, pregnancy and breastfeeding risks can get drowned out.”

She added, “The resources available to individuals and families will help everyone make an informed decision now that cannabis is legally available.”

Ms. Mercer noted the information is all evidence-based and is designed to help prevent problematic cannabis use by dispelling myths and providing education about low-risk cannabis use. Some of the topics highlighted came from a survey of over 2,776 local residents in the region regarding their cannabis use, intent to use and knowledge about cannabis and its potential health effects. Ms. Mercer says those survey results will be released in an upcoming report to the Board of Health.

From a provincial standpoint, Ontario’s new Attorney General, Caroline Mulroney, noted the government wanted to ease the transition to legalized marijuana. Addressing the Empire Club of Canada on Oct. 9, Ms. Mulroney said social effects associated with consuming recreational cannabis will not magically disappear and they are all very much top of mind.

“This risks to our children, our roads and our communities are real – and we are committed to addressing them,” she said. “Time was of the essence because the federal government had dictated the legalization date and we knew we needed to develop a new plan to protect children and youth, keep our roads safe and combat the criminal market in Ontario.”

That plan, Ms. Mulroney states, includes a proposal that would see the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario act as the provincial regulator to oversee the licensing and compliance process. She also notes consultation will continue with Ontario residents and Ontario municipalities to establish further framework moving forward.

Ms. Mulroney acknowledges a “one size fits all approach” for Ontario municipalities was not the right way forward. She says each of Ontario’s 444 municipalities will have input on two key elements of a looming provincial policy – where stores can be located and where cannabis can be consumed.

“First, municipalities will decide whether there will be any stores in their communities at all. Each municipal council will have the opportunity to opt-out of having bricks and mortar retail stores in their communities,” Ms. Mulroney said. “Those decisions will need to be made by Jan. 22 of next year.”

It is currently unclear where Orangeville Council stands on this issue. With a municipal election now just four days away, it will be left to the community’s electorate to decide whether or not they would want to see a cannabis retail store in Orangeville. The community is home, currently, to Stop & Smell The Roses, a hemp-based wellness centre that sells legal Cannabidol (CBD) in store. The business, located on First Street, opened in 2017.

For further information and resources regarding the new cannabis laws, visit

Readers Comments (0)

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.