Vaping, medical marijuana backers say apartment renter's total smoking ban is 'ridiculous'

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A medical marijuana advocate in Saskatoon is raising a stink about one company's plan to ban all types of smoking in its rental apartments starting this fall.

The policy, confirmed Thursday, will apply to smoking marijuana and cigarettes, plus vaping, inside more than 11,000 Mainstreet Equity Corp. apartments and attached patios in Saskatchewan, Alberta and B.C.

Smokers will have to take it outside to designated areas starting around Sept. 1, a month before cannabis is legalized in Canada, the company told CBC News.

"I think it's somewhat ridiculous," said Mike Francis, a spokesperson for Best Buds, a group that links people with doctors that prescribe medical marijuana.

"How can you ask them to leave their place of residence, especially in a place like Saskatchewan?" said Francis.

"There are people with severe arthritis who have mobility issues that are using this medicine. You're going to expect them to go trudge out outside in minus-30 to take their prescription?"

Other companies still deciding policy 

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Mainstreet said it's worried about the health effects of second-hand smoke plus maintaining the physical conditions of its approximately 100 buildings in Saskatchewan.

But Kait Shane, director of community outreach with Natural Health Services (NHS), thinks Mainstreet is going overboard by including vaping in its ban. NHS offers cannabis prescriptions and operates clinics in several cities, including Saskatoon.

"Vaping being a part of this? It is kind of hard not to use the word ridiculous when it comes to that," said Shane. "Vaping in itself is non-combusting. It's taking away 80 per cent of the odour and there are cheap handheld units that will eliminate the other 20 per cent of the odour. And it's a medication for people. Vaping is almost instant relief versus oils.

She said the smell from vaping is less powerful than many odours that are already present, such as those from cooking.

The Saskatchewan Landlord Association says over 100 other private landlords in the province are considering a move similar to Mainstreet's.

But another Saskatchewan rental company, Boardwalk Rental Communities, said it hasn't made up its mind yet.

David McIlveen, Boardwalk's director of community development, said Friday the company is still consulting its lawyers and operations staff before making a decision, which is expected in six weeks.

"As you can appreciate, it's not that simple," said McIlveen.

Landlords have right to ban

The Saskatchewan government updated its residential tenancies legislation last December to gives landlords the right to prohibit the possession and use of cannabis within their properties.

Shane said Mainstreet is the first apartment company in Canada she's heard of to announce such a ban. 

Luckily, she added, there are workarounds for people whose landlord ban smoking.

"There are things like sublinguals, sprays, powders, gel caps, oils — there's lots of other ways people are choosing to use the medication and certainly they can do their own topicals and edibles and suppositories."

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