Doug Ford contradicts his own government's cannabis plan, says smoking in parks is 'unacceptable'

It appears Premier Doug Ford doesn't approve of his own government’s new rules that would allow people to smoke cannabis in public parks.

Premier vows his ministers will make sure cannabis use is off-limits wherever kids may be around

Premier Doug Ford, centre, is already questioning his own government's cannabis rules, with legalization just weeks away. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

It appears Premier Doug Ford doesn't approve of his own government's new rules that would allow people to smoke cannabis in public parks.

With marijuana set to become legal on Oct.17, Ford is vowing Friday to have his finance minister and attorney general take another look at legislation unveiled two days ago that allows cannabis use wherever people can currently smoke cigarettes.

Ford directly contradicted that plan while speaking with reporters, saying: "We won't be allowing [cannabis use] close to parks."

"That's unacceptable, our priority is to keep children safe."

Following the news conference, officials from the premier's office said Ford was only referring to playgrounds.

"Premier Ford was clear in his remarks today — under our proposed legislation — individuals will not be permitted to smoke cannabis in playgrounds around children," Simon Jefferies, a spokesperson for Ford, wrote in an email to CBC Toronto. 

"It was the Federal Government which made the decision to legalize cannabis in Canada, and to take our province down this uncharted water," the email continues. "Throughout this entire process our first and foremost priority has been the safety of children and our communities."

Jefferies adds that municipalities have the freedom to enact their own bylaws restricting smoking in outdoor spaces, including parks. 

I don't like people walking around drunk or smoking weed or any of that in a public area of a park.- Premier Doug Ford

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act makes it illegal to smoke on or within 20 metres of children's playgrounds and publicly-owned sport fields and surfaces where smoking is banned. However, smoking is allowed in parks. 

Reporters confused by Ford's remarks pressed for more details, but received an unclear response.

"I'm talking playgrounds, parks," Ford said.

The premier then said he has no problem with someone having a joint in a large park, "as long as there's no kids around."

He promised reporters several times that he would have his ministers look into the matter. 

A glass of wine in the park? Ford says he'll consult on it

Ford was then asked about a proposal from Mayor John Tory, who suggested on Thursday that if people can smoke pot in parks then they should be able to enjoy a glass of wine or beer, as well.

"I hear John Tory's all for drinking in the parks now," Ford said, before saying he is willing to sit down and consult with the city on this matter.

"I don't know, guys… I don't like people walking around drunk or smoking weed or any of that in a public area of a park."

When asked whether he even approves of marijuana legalization at all, Ford didn't give a yes or no.

"I don't even have a choice. It's been dumped on us," he said, noting that while the federal government opted to legalize cannabis use it's been up to the province to put rules in place about who can use it and how.

The premier said as a bottom line, people should be considerate of others when they're using cannabis. He also said any rule the province puts in now is subject to change.

"This is a new area, everyone's blazing this new trail," he said.

"Nothing is carved in stone."


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