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Should marijuana be treated like alcohol in public places?


Should marijuana be treated like alcohol in public places?

Should marijuana be treated like alcohol in public places?

Marijuana has gone mainstream, with 23 states allowing recreational marijuana and 40 states having medical marijuana. 

According to a Pew Research report from 2022, A massive 90 percent think it should be legal in some form, and even Fox News has reported on it in the business segment.

But with legalization comes many rules, policies, and guidelines for use. 

We've experienced this before with smoking and alcohol, and now it's starting with marijuana. Should marijuana be used in public places like alcohol? Would it make things easier for all involved?

Smoking tobacco is harmful, but the tobacco lobby fought fiercely over where people could spark up. 

Until the 1970s, you could smoke anywhere, on planes, in hospitals, restaurants, schools, churches, workplaces, etc. 

In retrospect, it seems unbelievable to think about it. Pressure to ban smoking on planes came from the public, Ralph Nader, and flight attendant unions such as the Association of Flight Attendants. United Airlines was the first airline to establish smoke-free areas in 1971. At the time, you could be seated in the row behind the smoking section, which was considered OK. Surprisingly smoking was not banned in hospitals until 1993. It wasn't until 2003 that New York passed the Smoke-Free Air Act (SFAA), banning smoking in bars, restaurants, indoor public areas, parks, beaches, and pedestrian plazas. 

Today's generation takes all smoke-free air for granted.

Alcohol, on the other hand, saw the US try the crazy but failed experiment called Prohibition, which banned all alcoholic beverages. This lesson taught everyone how to break the law without feeling guilty.

Between 1975 and 1990, cities and states slowly began to implement versions of open container laws as a response to the decriminalization of public drunkenness and homelessness. While public places, especially those that are family-friendly, were less accepting of alcohol. The two big exceptions are New Orleans and the Las Vegas Strip. Exceptions were made during and after the COVID-19 pandemic due to limited space indoors at restaurants and bars. 

Unlike cigarettes, alcohol is not banned but rather should not be carried in an open container. Should smoking/vaping cannabis be treated the same way?

In Duluth, Minnesota, the City Council heard more than an hour of public testimony from concerned citizens as the state's fifth-largest city considers whether people should be banned from smoking marijuana in public parks. Other cities in the state are considering similar rules. At the moment, you can smell marijuana walking down the streets of most major cities. This makes some people uncomfortable for a variety of reasons.

The open-container laws in the US do not ban drinking alcohol but set guidelines for the public. As the way we consume cannabis changes, it makes sense to put in place some laws the public can accept that provide consumers with a legal pathway and find the right balance for a harmonious society.

The 2017 Smoke-Free Ontario Act could be an example to start from. This regulates where it is legal to smoke or vape cannabis. Most indoor or enclosed public spaces, children's playgrounds, sports arenas, and bus shelters are restricted. But the act allows consumption in private residences, guest rooms in hotels and motels designated as smoking rooms, and many outdoor public places such as sidewalks and parks. This seems to find a good balance, but what are your thoughts on the matter? Where do you think it should be legal/illegal to smoke or vape cannabis?