Cancer and lung associations recommend existing smoking bylaws apply to marijuana

With little direction from the province and the federal government, municipalities still do not have a clear plan for when legalization takes effect.

The groups also recommend that 21 should be the legal age to purchase marijuana

The Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan is weighing in on the province's plan to deal with recreational pot. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

If the Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan has its say, people would have to be 21 to buy recreational pot.

In fact, it would also like the age to purchase tobacco raised to 21.

That's just two of the many recommendations made by the Cancer Society and the Lung Association in a joint letter to the government of Saskatchewan.

It also recommends that the sale of marijuana be government controlled.

The letter was sent as part of the government's ongoing process of consultation. As it stands, the province still has not released its plan on the regulation of marijuana.

In the letter, the groups recommend that the province "prohibit use anywhere smoking is currently banned under the Tobacco Control Act."

Not just blowing smoke

Donna Pasiechnik with the Canadian Cancer Society in Saskatchewan, said there appears to be support for this, citing a poll commissioned by her organization. 

According to an Ipsos Reid poll conducted on Sept. 20 – 24 of the 505 Saskatchewan residents polled, 82 per cent were in favour of banning the smoking of marijuana wherever smoking is already banned. This includes bylaws on vaping.

Pasiechnik said people in the province should all be able to live and exist without being subject to second-hand smoke.

"The protection you get shouldn't depend on the community or the postal code you have, it should be a blanket wide protection for the entire province, big communities, small communities. And right now that is not the case," she said.

When it comes to smoking weed, Pasiechnik said many of the same carcinogens — which can produce cancer — that are present in a joint are also present in a cigarette. 

"Municipalities are moving in that direction already but the province is far behind what other province have done in this area," said Pasiechnik 

The organization wants the province to make the minimum age 21 to buy pot. (David Horemans/CBC)

Greg Dionne, mayor of Prince Albert, said his community is still waiting on some direction from the government, but feels tacking marijuana onto existing city bylaws would make sense.

"I think attaching it to our current bylaws would be sufficient, okay, but lots of people think it should be even a little tighter than that. especially around schools or play grounds or soccer fields,`said Dionne.

"They don't think it should be smoked very much in public."

The date for legalization is still eight months away but Dionne feels many questions remain unanswered.

For example, about an hour from Prince Albert, in Candle Lake, Dionne wonders if people will be able to smoke marijuana along the beach there. 

Though he does not feel the timeline is unfair, he would like to see a bit more leadership and information from both the province and from Ottawa.

"We have a committee that's looking into it and of course we're still waiting for what the feds and the province have to say," said Dionne. 

Both Dionne and Pasiechnik said that smoking of marijuana should be prohibited from public places and close to schools.

After a bylaws are decided, and a few months after legalization, Dionne said he would like to have a community meeting to see if how people have responded to the bylaws.

"I'd really like to take it to the public."

Legalization takes effect on July 1, 2018.