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BC Human Rights Tribunal to hear medicinal marijuana complaint

Last Updated Sep 24, 2019 at 6:09 pm PST

A man smokes a marijuana joint in Kamloops, B.C. Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. New figures indicate both cannabis use and cigarette smoking increased among Canadian adults aged 25 and older last year.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Summary

Robin Hayes was asked to leave the designated smoking area of a pub for using marijuana

The incident that spurred the complaint took place before cannabis was legalized

The BC Human Rights Tribunal has decided what he experienced may have been discrimination based on disability

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — A retired Mountie kicked out of a Vancouver Island pub for using medicinal marijuana will have his complaint heard by BC’s Human Rights Tribunal.

The incident took place before Oct. 17, 2018–when cannabis was legalized.

In August, 2018, Robin Hayes was smoking marijuana on a patio–designated for smokers–at the Kingsway Hotel and Pub in Port Alberni when he was asked to leave.

“Mr. Hayes says he showed the Employee his Health Canada card, his prescription for medical cannabis and his retired RCMP and Veterans Affairs ID cards. He also says he explained to the Employee that he had a legal prescription for medical cannabis and the lawful authority to consume it in a public place,” the decision from the tribunal says.

Hayes’ prescription was part of his treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

He went back the next day and the pub’s owner Man Shun (Helen) Poon reierated that pot is prohibited on the premises.

“Ms. Poon says Mr. Hayes was asked to leave because the Kingsway had a policy of not allowing anyone to smoke marijuana on its premises, including the Pub’s patio, because of the psycho-active effects of marijuana smoke on other patrons and its staff,” according to the decision.

The decision to hear the complaint comes after Poon applied to have it dismissed, arguing that it was against Canadian law to smoke cannabis in public, for any reason, before legalization. Poon further argued that question of whether it is legal to smoke pot in any public place for any reason are outside the jurisdiction of the province and the tribunal, because laws surrounding cannabis are federal.

In it’s decision, the tribunal says the question of whether Hayes was discriminated against on the basis of disability is worth raising, and can therefore proceed.

“[Hayes] alleges that the [Pub owner’s] conduct made him feel ashamed, depressed and ridiculed and that he was “a second class citizen as opposed to a lawful patron.” He also alleges that the type of discrimination he complained of aggravates his PTSD and increases his social isolation. In my view, if these allegations are proven, they could establish that Mr. Hayes has the protected characteristic of disability and he experienced an adverse impact with respect to the accommodation, service or facility that Kingsway customarily offered to the public.”