Gets me fuming: smokers in parks

Gets me fuming: smokers in parks

SLt M.X. Déry, Acting editor ~

The legalization of pot is finally upon us, and while I’m not a user myself, I’m glad that some of my friends will now have the freedom to engage in recreational use without fear of legal reprisal. No longer will they need to find a sequestered spot to purchase illegal drugs on the black market and then smoke them in hiding, usually somewhere outdoors like the woods or a park.

With the stigma gone, I shouldn’t be walking in the park at sunset and come across yet another couple sharing a joint during their jaunt on the trails. Ended are the days where I push my son’s stroller with the stench of marijuana permeating around the playground.

Nothing really gets me fuming like seeing people carrying bits of burning plant around a heavily wooded area after the worst wildfire season in BC history.

I’m not naïve and I know the transition won’t be instantaneous, but pot smokers will need to re-learn where they can smoke. For years they’ve developed a routine of smoking away from house and home, avoiding their landlords or children and smoking somewhere they could walk to, but not in plain sight where authorities could see them.

If you plan on trying cannabis for the first time on Oct 17, then I recommend you read the recently amended Capital Regional District (CRD) Clean Air Bylaw No. 3962, which makes all parks, playgrounds, playing fields, public squares and bus stops smoke free. The section outlining where you can’t smoke is only half a page.

I can’t remember the last time I spotted a tobacco smoker lighting up where they weren’t supposed to, so if you don’t want to read through the legalese, you could always ask your tobacco smoking friends where they smoke.

While you no longer face jail time for smoking pot, if you are caught smoking in a park or public space the fine is $100. CRD enforcement over the last year has been focussing on education and awareness, but will result in fines as of Oct 20.

The amended bylaw also prohibits vaping, whether nicotine, cannabis or other, in the same areas. 

While I agree that your maple and coconut flavoured vape juice from PureHempFarms doesn’t smell as bad as tobacco or cannabis, you still can’t sit at the bus stop creating your own fog bank.

“We have the most reports of people not complying with the seven metre smoke-free buffer zones around doorways, windows, air intakes and bus stops,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s Chief Medical Health Officer. “Other frequent complaints are related to the absence of a sign at building entrances. With the inclusion of cannabis under the bylaw, we expect similar reports.”

New signs are being posted around the city with the hope of keeping the complaints down, but with the winter rain forthcoming, many a smoker will want to light up indoors. Perhaps they sell umbrellas with a lighter built in?

“There is no safe level of second-hand smoke – that includes cannabis, vapour products and tobacco,” says Dr. Stanwick.

If you do want to try cannabis without all these headaches, edibles are only a year away. Until then, stay out of parks and playgrounds while smoking.

Those catching smokers where they shouldn’t be smoking can contact an Island Health Enforcement Officer at 250-360-1450.

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