Nova Scotia

Pot smokers free to light up on Province House grounds

Those looking to smoke marijuana somewhere with a little more gravitas can do so on the grounds of the Nova Scotia legislature.

The legislature and its surrounding property are exempt from municipal bylaws

Only time will tell if visitors start flocking to the heart of Nova Scotia democracy to smoke their weed. (Robert Short/CBC)

Halifax became a largely smoke-free zone after the city beefed up bylaws in anticipation of legalized marijuana but in the heart of downtown remains a large public space untouched by municipal rules and, consequently, open for toking: the grounds of the provincial legislature.

Although the nearest designated municipal smoking area is a couple of blocks away on Argyle Street, Province House and its property are exempt from municipal control.

Parliamentary precincts, as they are called, are the purview of the Speaker and right now Kevin Murphy has allowed smoking, as long as the smoker is far enough away from the entrances not to infringe upon the Smoke-free Places Act, which is a provincial law.

Murphy said he didn't personally want anyone to smoke a joint on the property, but there's nothing to prevent them from doing that.

"Well, there's really not much I can do right at this particular point in time, other than keep an eye on things," he told CBC News. 

"You know as far as we're concerned, it's public space but our hope is certainly that people recognize that it is public space frequented by people of all ages."

The parking lot outside the legislature was already a popular place to smoke cigarettes for a number of MLAs and some staff who work at the legislature.

This photo from Sept. 4, 2018 shows construction underway on the grounds of Province House in downtown Halifax. (CBC)

The other side of the building, with its statue of Joe Howe, remains a construction zone as work continues to beautify the grounds in the hopes of making them more inviting to visitors.

The property's free-to-smoke status may be one more reason for some people to drop by and admire its stone work, which the legislature's website says "has been characterized by some as the finest example of Palladian architecture in the country."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jean Laroche

Reporter

Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter for 32 years. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.

now