GREATER education is needed around medicinal cannabis to prevent users feeling victimised when they visit pubs and restaurants, a patient has said.
Darren Lappin (49) explained that he was removed from two different establishments for using a medicinal cannabis vape – once outside in a designated smoking area and secondly when going to change his cartridge inside.
He said: ‘There is clearly still a stigma around it, even though it is legal for medical purposes. You are made to feel like a second-class citizen. If someone gets a smell of it, you are instantly looked at.’
Mr Lappin believes businesses need to be made aware of the legislation on medicinal cannabis.
Simon Harrison, from campaign group End Cannabis Prohibition Jersey, said there were ‘currently no restrictions under Jersey law as to where a patient may or may not vape their medicinal cannabis’.
Mr Lappin suffers from chronic pain, a degenerative disease in his back and arthritis and has been prescribed medicinal cannabis since 2018.
‘Greater education is needed around the topic. Pubs and other venues should be made aware of the legislation around medicinal cannabis. I’m not one to make a big deal out of it but being confronted in public and kicked out of somewhere for it makes you feel victimised. It is denying someone their medication and I can’t see what harm it is doing to anyone,’ he said.
‘I don’t like the smell of cigarettes, but I would never complain if someone comes back in the pub stinking of them, and it should be the same for medicinal cannabis,’ he added.
Mr Lappin said that patients should adopt a ‘common sense approach’ when using medicinal cannabis and do it away from children – similar to people’s approach to smoking cigarettes.
‘I have been asked to leave both a pub and a restaurant this year despite showing them proof that I am a medicinal cannabis patient,’ he said. ‘Imagine if I was kicked out of somewhere in front of my family and kids, it would be so upsetting. Especially when these places have no idea of the laws.’
Mr Harrison said there was still ‘a great deal of stigma’ associated with the use of medicinal cannabis, despite it being legalised by the States Assembly four years ago.
‘There certainly needs to be greater public awareness of medicinal cannabis and the protections afforded to patients under the Discrimination (Jersey) Law 2013,’ he said.
‘There are currently no restrictions under Jersey law as to where a patient may or may not vape their medicinal cannabis.’
Mr Harrison said that hospitality venues and other establishments should be ‘cognisant of their obligations under the Discrimination Law’, otherwise they could be subject to a complaint to the Jersey Employment and Discrimination Tribunal.
‘Disallowing the vaping of medicinal cannabis in an area where smoking or the vaping of nicotine is otherwise allowed can be interpreted as being unfavourable treatment “because of something arising as a consequence of [a] disability” under Article 6(12)(a) in relation to the “access to and use of public premises” (Article 23) of the Discrimination Law,’ he said.