Courtesy of Lift Magazine
When Donna Schlonies moved into her non-smoking subsidized housing unit in Grey County, Ontario, she thought she was on the road to recovery from health and financial challenges. Instead, her health declined – so she obtained authorization to try medical cannabis to treat PTSD and chronic pain. Liver disease prevents her from taking over-the-counter pain medications.
Even though Schlonies lives in a non-smoking unit, the housing administrators allowed her to consume medication without having to go outside – until the Smoke-Free Ontario Act arrived, which prohibits smoking in any enclosed workplace, public space and specific outdoor spaces in the province. She was told to use a vaporizer to medicate.
“I have to vape,” she says. “And vaping does it, but it doesn’t cut it some days. So I’m stuck. I’m up against a wall.” And because she has asthma, she says the weather affects her ability to medicate outdoors. In October, she filed a human rights complaint in an effort to be accommodated with a smoking unit or permission to use an air purifier to reduce smoke for other residents.
That’s why she was alarmed to hear that this week, Ottawa Public Health recommended that the province ban smoking and vaping inside all apartments, condos and on all balconies when recreational cannabis is legalized later this year.
Similar to the province’s alcohol and tobacco laws, the Ontario Liberal government has indicated that recreational consumers will be prohibited from smoking in public spaces, workplaces and in vehicles, but private residences would be okay. Medical consumers would be subject to the aforementioned Smoke Free Ontario Act.
But Dr. Vera Etches, acting medical officer of health for Ottawa Public Health, recommended that all cannabis smoking and vaping – medical or not – should be banned in condos and apartments, reports CTV Ottawa.
“Second-hand smoke can disperse through a building, traveling between adjacent units through cracks in walls and ceilings, windows, and heating and ventilation systems,” she reportedly wrote. “According to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating & Air-Conditioning Engineers, there is currently no available or reasonably anticipated ventilation or air cleaning system that can adequately control or significantly reduce the health risks of second-hand smoke.”
The submission was reportedly made to the province as part of its consultation process on its new cannabis legislation.
Schlonies says she understands that not everyone enjoys the scent of cannabis smoke, but feels she tolerates other residents’ medications and vices.
“What about the fentanyl patches running around my building? I have a friend downstairs, she’s 67, and she’s on frickin’ morphine,” Schlonies says. “What about the alcohol? I’m not a drinker. Never have been not an alcoholic and never had a problem. My father was. So all of us aren’t drinkers. I watch booze be brought in on a check day non-stop and that bothers me. But that’s okay.”
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