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Only three weeks before the use of recreational cannabis becomes legal Ontario has signalled that it intends to reverse the province’s strict rules on where cannabis can be consumed and will allow smoking it in public.

Finance Minister Vic Fedeli and Attorney-General Caroline Mulroney made the announcement at Queen’s Park on Wednesday afternoon as they unveiled legislation that would be tabled the next morning setting the rules around the sale of cannabis. The legislation will also do away with the province’s plan to limit the smoking of cannabis to private property and would instead allow smoking anywhere tobacco use is allowed.

“I’m sure that there will be a lot of complaints about the neighbour next door, but we’re aligning with the Smoke Free Ontario Act,” Ms. Mulroney told reporters.

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Ontario's Attorney General Caroline Mulroney and Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli speak about new legislation for selling marijuana, in Toronto, Sept. 26, 2018.MARK BLINCH/The Canadian Press

The Smoke Free Ontario Act allows smoking outdoors, but doesn’t allow smoking within nine metres of most public buildings or within 20 metres of a children’s play area.

The new rules will bring Ontario’s approach in line with that adopted in Alberta and B.C. and will address concerns that people living in smoke-free apartments would be legally barred from smoking cannabis nearly everywhere in Ontario except at another private property.

Read more: Ontario proposes capping number of stores for cannabis growers, open market for recreational sales

The legislation will create special rules barring the use of cannabis in vehicles or boats. “In these circumstances, cannabis poses risks similar to alcohol,” Ms. Mulroney said.

Special exemptions will be created to allow the consumption of cannabis in long-term care homes as well as designated hotel rooms.

“I think that’s the headline coming out of today,” said Omar Khan, a vice-president at the consulting firm Hill+Knowlton Strategies who has advised several clients on the pending legalization of cannabis.

“There are major implications for licensed producers from a consumer marketing perspective. With the ability to now consume in public spaces, it’s a completely new ball game about how they will want to build brand awareness,” he said.

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