FIIIIGHT: The Legal Right to Publicly Puff Puff and Pass Sparks Tiff

October 5, 2015

A federally licensed medicinal marijuana user is fuming after receiving correspondence from his city councilor telling him to “Quit taking up taxpayers' dollars” with a “frivolous” human rights complaint.

Russell Barth lit up a joint in on the lawn of Ottawa City Hall this weekend as he relayed his disgust at an email he received from Coun. Gord Hunter in response to an e-mail of his own.

“I am not asking for anything special except the same rights that tobacco smokers have,” he said between puffs. “I don't think I should be forcing my smoke on other people, but I offer tobacco smokers and non-smokers far more courtesy than most tobacco smokers do.”

Barth e-mailed Hunter on Friday asking to meet in person to discuss his assertion that his human rights were violated when a cigarette smoker outside his doctor's office building “asked me to move along.” The local comedian had previously filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission following an incident on May 7 when he and his wife — Christine Lowe, who is also a federally licensed user — were told not to smoke marijuana outside a comedy club.


The complaint states that the government has failed to “amend legislation to accommodate licensed medical marijuana users” because the club's liquor licence could be suspended if someone was caught smoking marijuana on the premises — even if they have a medicinal licence.

In Barth's e-mail to Hunter, he asks for a meeting to discuss “rectifying” the matters that led to the perceived violation of the couple's rights.

“Tough luck on you that you feel you had your human rights violated,” Hunter responded in an e-mail. “Tough luck on the taxpayers of Ontario that you feel this is a serious matter.”

The councillor goes on to say if every smoker were to file a human rights complaint every time someone asked them to move because their smoke was bothering them, where would we be?

“Bully for you that you can legally smoke dope. I do not feel that gives you the right to shove it in anyone else's face,” Hunter writes.

In a phone conversation on Sunday, Hunter questioned why a councillor's having told someone what's on his mind would be considered so rare as to warrant media coverage.


“You can't actually think this guy has a legitimate complaint to go before the Human Rights Commission because some people say 'Don't blow marijuana in my face,'” he said.