West Nipissing bans pot smoking in public

Smoking pot in public is now against the law in one northern Ontario town. West Nipissing has passed a bylaw banning the smoking of cannabis from any public place.

Greater Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie put cannabis and tobacco under the same smoking ban

Cities like Greater Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie are setting bylaws that will treat cannabis the same as tobacco, while West Nipissing is one of the only communities in the northeast to have two sets of rules. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Cannabis might be legal, but there is now one northern Ontario town where you can't smoke it on the sidewalk.

West Nipissing passed a bylaw this week banning the smoking of pot from almost any public place, including streets and parking lots.

The same bylaw restricts the smoking of tobacco, but you can light up a cigarette many places you can't smoke a joint.

West Nipissing Mayor Joanne Savage says the goal is to strike a "counter balance" between the rights of individuals and the rights of the larger community.

"You want to not expose your youth to it, you want to mitigate risk, you want to try to control the usage," she says.

Town councillor Yvon Duhaime wishes the bylaw could have gone further.

He would like to see the smoking of marijuana banned from apartment buildings as well. 

"We all know what it smells like and it smells bad and we all have to live with that. And I don't agree. I don't agree one bit and that's something I wish we could have tackled," says Duhaime.

Different laws in different areas

Most other cities and towns in the northeast have one set of restrictions that applies to whatever you're smoking.

Greater Sudbury city council this week asked staff to re-write the smoking bylaw to include cannabis.

They want the list of places where the smoking of anything is banned to now also include the downtown bus terminal and public libraries.

"We shouldn't be expecting our staff to go around tearing apart people's cigarettes or joints and looking to see what's inside," says Sudbury city councillor Geoff McCausland.

Sault Ste. Marie took a similar approach earlier this year, expanding the list of places where smoking is banned to include city parks when it added cannabis to the bylaw created years ago for tobacco.

Elliot Lake recently strengthened its smoking bylaw as well, adding in cannabis, while proposing that fines be upped to $150. That still needs the OK of the provincial government before any tickets are written. 

Timmins and North Bay are currently reviewing their smoking regulations. 


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


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