When Victoria Hollinrake visited a Montreal amusement park, she says she was told by security guards that she would have to leave if she wanted to use her medicinal marijuana.
Hollinrake, who lives about an hour west of Montreal in Hawkesbury, Ont., travelled to Montreal for a fun day at La Ronde, a Six Flags theme park, with her children.
She has a chronic nerve disorder called trigeminal neuralgia, which causes intense, shock-like face pain.
Hollinrake said after a few hours at the park her pain flared up and she asked security guards if there was a place in the back where she could go and smoke quietly.
But they told her she would have to leave.
“They were like, no, it’s against the policies, and you cannot smoke on the grounds.”
Strictly prohibited, even when it's medicinal
Hollinrake says that for over four years, she’s had a Health Canada permit that allows her to use medicinal marijuana. She says she showed the document to security guards, but they were uncompromising.
“This is my right, my health,” she says.
La Ronde is a smoke-free theme park, although it does permit people to smoke tobacco in designated areas.
But when it comes to marijuana, the park has a firm zero-tolerance policy.
Catherine Tremblay, head of communications for La Ronde, told CBC’s Daybreak the park makes no exceptions when it comes to medicinal marijuana.
"It is strictly prohibited to possess, sell and/or use illegal substances (drugs) on La Ronde property, even for individuals possessing a permit for medical marijuana,” she said in a statement.
“Guests with such a licence should contact guest relations, where they will be directed outside the premises to proceed with their therapy, with the possibility to be readmitted.”
However, Hollinrake says leaving to go smoke on the street would mean leaving her children alone.
She says she’s never had a problem before.
“I don’t go out to become a target. I only use it when I need it. I try to keep discreet about it.”
Prejudice still exists, says Montreal lawyer
Montreal criminal lawyer Jeffrey Boro says he thinks there is still prejudice against people who use medicinal marijuana.
"I think it's terribly wrong of the guards to do that,” he said.
“It's been decided that medical marijuana is exactly that, a medicine. And I don't think that they would confiscate a pain killer from somebody if they were asked for a glass of water so that they could take the pills the doctor prescribed.”
In the end, Hollinrake says she was forced to go the entire day without medicating.
“I didn’t use my medication all the day, and by the end of the day my face was swollen …. I ended up being as sick as heck.”