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Is it legal to smoke or vape cannabis in public?

Region: Ontario Answer # 2364

In Ontario, the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017 regulates where it is legal to smoke or vape cannabis. In these circumstances, smoking and vaping are defined as follows:

Smoking: inhaling and exhaling, or holding lighted tobacco or cannabis.

Vaping: inhaling or exhaling vapour from an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), or holding an activated e-cigarette, regardless of whether the vapour contains nicotine.

Where is it legal to smoke or vape cannabis?

The new Act makes it legal to smoke and vape cannabis in the following places:

  • Private residences
  • Many outdoor public places (e.g. sidewalks, parks)
  • Guest rooms in hotels, motels and inns designated as smoking rooms
  • Residential vehicles and boats that meet certain criteria (e.g. have permanent sleeping accommodations and cooking facilities, and are parked or anchored)
  • Scientific research and testing facilities (if the cannabis use is for scientific research and testing purposes)
  • Controlled areas in:
    • long-term care homes
    • certain retirement homes
    • residential hospices
    • provincially-funded supportive housing
    • designated psychiatric facilities or veterans’ facilities

Where is it illegal to smoke or vape cannabis?

Under the Act, you cannot smoke or vape cannabis:

  • in any enclosed workplace
  • any enclosed public place
  • other places designated as smoke-free and vape-free

What is an enclosed public place?

As per the Act, an enclosed public place means any part of a building, structure or vehicle that is covered by a roof and where the public is invited or has access, including:

  • the indoor grounds of specific Ontario government office buildings
  • outdoor shelters the public or employees are invited to use that have more than two walls and a roof, such as a bus shelter
  • the patio of any bar or restaurant, including public areas that are within 9 metres of the patio
  • cars or other motor vehicle if anyone inside is 15 years old or younger; and in a car, other motor vehicle, or boat, that is
    • being driven, or
    • is at risk of being put in motion
  • any child care centre or related facility that provides an early years program or service, even if there are no children present
  • children’s playgrounds, or public areas within 20 metres of children’s playgrounds
  • publicly owned sporting area (except for golf courses), their fan/viewing areas, and public areas within 20 metres
  • reserved seating area of an outdoor sports arena or entertainment venue
  • the following areas of hospitals, hospices, care homes and other health care facilities:
    • any outdoor hospital grounds or psychiatric facility grounds;
    • within 9 metres of any entrance or exit of a public or private hospital, psychiatric facility, long-term care home or independent health facility; and
    • where home health care workers work
  • outdoor grounds of a community recreational facility as well as any public areas that are within 20 metres
  • the following areas of any public or private school:
    • indoor spaces
    • outdoor grounds, including playgrounds and sports fields
    • public areas within 20 metres of the school’s grounds

Offences and penalties under the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017

Under the Act, smoking or vaping where it is not allowed is an offence. If convicted, the fines are:

  • $1,000 for a first offence,
  • $5,000 for any further offence

Youth below the legal age of possession:

  • Can be charged for possession and/or distribution of over 5 grams
  • Are not allowed to have any plants
  • If charged, will be sentenced under the Youth Criminal Justice Act

The laws regulating public consumption of cannabis are constantly changing and evolving. For more information about Ontario’s rules, refer to the Smoke-Free Ontario Act, 2017, or visit ontario.ca.  In addition to the provincial rules, municipalities may create additional restrictions on where public consumption of recreational cannabis is prohibited. For more information, check with your municipality.

To erase your criminal record for simple cannabis possession or any other criminal charges, call toll-free 1-888-808-3628 or learn more at Pardon Partners. It’s easier than you think.

For legal advice and assistance with a cannabis related matter, contact our preferred experts:

Caryma S'ad, Lawyer & Notary Public

Harrison Jordan Law


Harrison Jordan Cannabis ONHarrison Jordan Cannabis ON

Caryma Sa’d Cannabis ONCaryma Sa’d Cannabis ON

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