With cannabis now legal in Montreal, some are wondering whether smoking should be banned at public events where children are present, such as Montreal’s annual Santa Claus parade.
It was a question raised by Coun. Abdelhaq Sari at Montreal city council Monday evening.
“I asked the question for all the families,” Sari said. “It is my responsibility as a parent to bring my children to a safe place, for me, like other parents, cannabis is not safe.”
Many Montrealers agreed with Sari, saying cannabis smoking should not be allowed at the Santa Claus parade.
“If you’re not allowed to bring alcohol, you shouldn’t be allowed to bring cannabis,” reasoned Tina Iriotakais. “I think it should be the same comparison.”
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Allan Dame for his part felt second-hand smoke from cannabis would be problematic.
“It’s too much of a public place. Some people just can’t tolerate it,” he said, adding the smell gives him headaches.”
For others, smoking cannabis at the parade was a non-issue.
“I don’t think it will be a big percentage of people who will be there that will smoke cannabis,” said Eric Beauchemin. “Now it’s a law and the reality for children is that they will have to smell cannabis sometimes.”
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The city of Montreal says it asked for specific powers to prohibit cannabis at special events, but the request was denied.
“Because we didn’t obtain that power we found other ways in order to prohibit nuisances in the boroughs,” said executive committee member Rosannie Filato.
“So the boroughs will have the power to prohibit nuisances, like smoking or vaping in specific events with families.”
Filato said the Ville-Marie borough responsible for hosting the annual Santa parade was looking at the feasibility of banning smoking pot for the event.
Sari admitted it could be difficult to enforce, as the parade isn’t held in an enclosed public space, but felt it wasn’t an excuse.
“It would be hard but it is the responsibility of the mayor and of the administration,” he said. “A thing is hard, but we can do it.”
Sari also wants the city to provide a list of all events where smoking cannabis will be banned.
For him, it’s a question of making sure parents can make informed decisions.
Filato downplayed those concerns, explaining that decisions were made on a case-by-case basis.
She did, however, say the city was ready to work in close partnership with all boroughs to look at banning pot at specific events.
Santa is expected to be in town on Nov. 17.
Whether or not a cloud of smoke will hang over the parade, has yet to be determined.
— With files from Global’s Dan Spector