With 6 weeks till pot legal, golf industry must decide about smoking on links

The golf industry must soon decide how it will handle marijuana smoking out on the links with six weeks to go until the drug is legalized.

British Columbia Golf Association survey finds younger players plan to smoke weed

Businesses and golfers are pondering how to handle marijuana smoking on the links after pot becomes legal on Oct. 17. (CBC)

To puff or to putt — or both.

That's the question facing golfers and businesses with a little over six weeks to go before marijuana is legalized on Oct. 17.

Players, for their part, are deciding whether they choose to use before or during a round. Private golf courses will need to choose whether they will allow marijuana — or players under the influence — on the green once the drug is legal.

Golf B.C. has asked thousands of golfers for their thoughts — and opinions are mixed. 2:01

Some golfers think it's a great idea.

"It's a nice place [to use], out of the neighbourhood," said Cameron Burns, who was out for a round in Vancouver on Labour Day Monday.

"Helps my game out, that's for sure."

Dan Gleadle says he's indifferent about pot on the green, though he says he doesn't know "why anyone would want to" be high on the course. (CBC)

Others players, not so much.

"I don't know why you'd want to, honestly, but if anybody did … who cares?" said Dan Gleadle, another golfer. "To each his own, as far as I'm concerned."

The British Columbia Golf Association surveyed thousands of its members about the issue over the summer, and results found the issue is divided by age.

More than half of players under the age of 35 said they planned to smoke weed on the links, but only 10 per cent over the age of 55 said they would do the same.

Golfers line up at the driving range in Vancouver on Labour Day Monday. A British Columbia Golf Association survey found more young players are in favour of marijuana on golf courses once the drug is legalized in Canada, while older players skew in the other direction. (CBC)

Kris Jonasson, the association's chief executive, said some older respondents are even worried about running into players under the influence during a game.

"They have some concerns about being paired with someone who is smoking marijuana on the golf course," he said.

Business decision

The National Golf Course Owners Association Canada has said policies for staff and golfers need to be instated once pot is legalized.

Municipal bylaws might make decisions on what's allowed and what isn't on behalf of some businesses.

But some private courses — many of which already allow alcohol and cigarettes — will be left to make their own choice.

Golfers enjoy a day on the links Monday in Vancouver. Municipal bylaws might decide what's allowed and what isn't on golf courses. (CBC)

Cindy Zheng, a corporate employment lawyer in Vancouver, said those business owners could run into trouble trying to enforce an outright ban on one drug and not another.

"You might be perceived as being discriminatory — treating one group of people in a more preferential manner than another group, when both substances [alcohol and cannabis] are legal," she said.

"You would have to make sure that you are enforcing it properly."

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