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Ottawa Public Health looking at marijuana rollout

Agency has to set rules for second-hand smoke and come up with public education campaign.

Marijuana sales will be regulated by the provincial government.

Metro file

Marijuana sales will be regulated by the provincial government.

You likely won’t be able to smoke legal marijuana anywhere you can’t smoke cigarettes today when pot becomes legal next year.

But that’s just one of the challenges Ottawa Public Health is working out.

The Liberal government’s plan to legalize marijuana by July 2018 were released in April and provinces are next to set up rules about how the drug can be sold.

After that, municipalities will set their own rules.

Gillian Connelly, manager of health promotion and disease prevention at OPH, said there all sort of issues to work out.

Connelly said OPH would like to see use of marijuana restricted just like that of cigarettes. There’s a bill in the Ontario legislature right now that would allow municipalities to include marijuana in anti-smoking bylaws.

Connelly said that, much like tobacco and alcohol, there are health risks to consuming marijuana. OPH will develop campaigns to make that point, she said.

“We are definitely needing to inform people about what they’re consuming and the health implications,” she said. “It’s not a benign substance.”

Connelly said that, in Colorado, where pot has already been legalized, there were initially problems as some edible marijuana was sold in gummy bears or candy forms that children could ingest.

“The ER doctors saw an increase in poisonings from children consuming edibles,” she said.

She said the work won’t end with legalization, and research on marijuana will be ongoing.

“There are a lot of unknowns as a result of it having been illegal for so long,” she said. “There is a lot of research that needs to be done on many levels.”

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