Markham’s City Council Bans Smoking Cannabis in Public Spaces

By Whitney Abrams, Alexander Katznelson & student-at-law Darren Nguyen | October 18, 2018

On October 16, Markham’s City Council held a special meeting and, by a unanimous vote of 11-0, passed the “Cannabis By-Law” (download the PDF). The By-Law bans the smoking or vaporizing of cannabis in public places within the City of Markham, limiting consumption to private residences. The By-Law replaces the provincial legislation’s consumption rules which will allow the consumption of cannabis wherever smoking is allowed, with the exception of motor vehicles and boats in certain circumstances. Markham Mayor, Frank Scarpitti, stated that the By-Law was passed as a response to feedback from concerned residents about exposure to their children, elderly parents, and/or the smell of cannabis on city streets.

Section 3.1 of the By-Law prohibits anyone in Markham from smoking, vaporizing, holding, or otherwise using lit cannabis in any public place, including (but not limited to): municipal parks, public parking lots, roads and highways, sidewalks and municipal boulevards, schools, daycares, retail, commercial or business premises, etc.

The By-Law will not apply to private homes or private property containing one or more dwellings and will not apply to individuals who are entitled to possess cannabis pursuant to a medical document that was issued to the individual pursuant to the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations, SOR. 2016-230.

The Province gave each municipality the option to enact By-Laws to enact rules beyond the minimum standard. Markham’s By-Law does not come as much of a surprise, given that most members of Markham City Council have publicly voiced disdain for the new cannabis regime. Markham has already stated that it will opt-out of private retail for cannabis restricting access for its residents.

Section 9.0 of the By-Law sets penalties for violating the By-Law. Fines for a first conviction may range from $100 - $500. For second/subsequent convictions or convictions for multiple offences, offenders could be faced with fines of up to $1,000 per offence.

Continue to check CCL for what other municipalities across Ontario and Canada are doing in response to legalization of recreational cannabis.

Whitney Abrams

Whitney Abrams

Whitney’s work focuses on providing regulatory advice and advocating on behalf of cannabis businesses in the North American market. She is a frequent contributor to Canada Cannabis Legal.
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