Pot smoking in Montreal allowed where tobacco smoking is allowed

When recreational marijuana becomes legal on October 17, you'll be able to smoke it pretty much anywhere in public places in the city of Montreal where you can smoke a cigarette.

The city says it's allowing people to smoke pot in public places where smoking tobacco is already allowed so for example, while on the sidewalk, in a park or at a festival such as the Montreal Jazz Festival or the Fête des Neiges.

You won't be allowed to smoke marijuana in public places where smoking tobacco is prohibited such as playgrounds, sports fields, bus shelters or within nine meters of the entrance to a government building.

The city said it took several factors into consideration including its large number of tenants - 60% of the population. It also said it's following the lead of public health officials who are concerned that banning marijuana smoking in all public places will just force smokers indoors and spread second-hand smoke.

You also won't be allowed to smoke in boroughs such as St. Laurent that have adopted bylaws banning pot smoking in all public place. Montreal North, Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Pointe-aux-Trembles/Rivière-des-prairies and St. Leonard are also planning such bylaws. Their bylaws will prevail over the city's overall guidelines allowing pot smoking in the public domain.

Montreal mayor Valérie Plante said she is hoping they will come around.

"I'm not going to hide that I'm hoping that whole city of Montreal can have the same rules. It would definitely make it easier for everyone (whether) you're a tourist or someone living in Montreal and that is why I will definitely encourage all my colleagues to have a more open approach which is based on studies and data," Plante told a news conference.

St. Laurent borough mayor Alan DeSousa said they won't be changing their minds.

"It's highly irresponsible to suggest that there is no impact on the public domain. We've got families, we've got kids. we've got citizens who do not appreciate being able to have to walk through and breathe in the impacts of smoke from the consumption of cannabis," DeSousa told CJAD 800.

Montreal police say they're ready to detect cannabis in motorists suspected of driving while under the influence of marijuana - 2000 officers have been trained with 500-600 more to go. Once you are pulled over and suspected of driving while high, you will be subject to a second level of testing. 

"These officers, at the moment we have ten of them, so there's two of them per shift so 24/7 we're able to cover the territory and the demand to proceed with those evaluations." said police spokesman André Durocher.

Nothing changes for city employees including blue collar workers and police - they will still not be allowed to show up for work high on marijuana and there will be no delays for consumption as prescribed in other cities. The RCMP for example is imposing on its officers a 28-delay for consuming marijuana before going on duty. There will be no grace period for offences in Montreal.