High tee times? B.C. Golf surveys members on marijuana use ahead of legalization

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Ahead of legalization this October, the BC Golf Association wants to know what its' members think of pot and putting. Kristen Robinson reports – Aug 26, 2018

Smoking and drinking are permitted on many B.C. golf courses, and ahead of marijuana legalization on Oct. 17, the B.C. Golf Association is polling members for their input on pot.

“If you’re having a beer on the golf course, you’re not really disturbing the people that you’re playing with,” B.C. Golf CEO Kris Jonasson told Global News. “If you’re smoking cannabis on the golf course, there is an odour and some people may find that odour offensive.”

B.C. Golf decided to partner with Inside Golf to get golfers’ points of view about marijuana use on the green. It did this after a canvass of golf clubs across the province found less than 20 per cent had developed a clear policy with respect to pot.

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In just one week, the online Marijuana Golfer Survey has generated 4,000 responses.

Early results show more than half of golfers under age 35 plan to light up a joint on the links, with two-thirds of that age group viewing it the same as drinking or smoking.

“We’re hearing a different story from an older demographic,” Jonasson said. Older respondents say that they don’t have a problem with legalization, but that if they get paired with somebody who’s smoking pot on the golf course, they might feel uncomfortable, Jonasson said.

Fewer than one in 10 players aged 55 and over say they’re planning to smoke marijuana and just one-third of the older age group sees cannabis as the same as booze or cigarettes.

“Golf is a very traditional game. We’re seeing a new demographic coming in,” Jonasson said. “We have to look at the whole question of etiquette and modernize the rules of etiquette.”

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The survey has also revealed that at member-run clubs, there is a strong desire for involvement in the pot-use policy making process, with 80 per cent of members wanting to have some input.

Legal experts say regulations proposed for B.C. regarding marijuana use in public spaces would prohibit the smoking or vaping of cannabis in skating rinks, pools, parks, skate parks, on sports fields, playgrounds, and on any decks, seating or viewing areas associated to these locations. Golf courses remain a hazy area.

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Club cannabis rules will have to comply with municipal and provincial bylaws, the latter of which bans pot smoking in workplaces.

“Golf courses are going to have to find an appropriate balance between the rights of employees to have a smoke-free environment and the rights of the members potentially to use cannabis on the golf course,” Acumen Law criminal lawyer Kyla Lee told Global News.

The final results of the Marijuana Golfer Survey will appear in the Fall issue of Inside Golf’s print magazine and the September issue of BC Golf’s digital magazine, The Scorecard.

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