Pub­lic feed­back speaks loud and clear to pro­hibit pub­lic con­sump­tion of cannabis in High River

Prairie Post (West Edition) - - High River -

At its reg­u­lar meet­ing on Septem­ber 24, High River Coun­cil heard what res­i­dents thought about the pub­lic con­sump­tion of cannabis in the com­mu­nity.

Through­out Au­gust and Septem­ber 2018, the Town of High River con­ducted com­mu­nity en­gage­ment to learn how res­i­dents felt about al­low­ing con­sump­tion of cannabis in pub­lic spa­ces.

“The find­ings of the en­gage­ment process were very in­for­ma­tive and show the key opin­ions of re­spon­dents quite clearly,” says Peter Genereux, man­ager of emer­gency man­age­ment and pro­tec­tive ser­vices with the Town. “Gen­er­ally, most re­spon­dents did not want to see cannabis con­sump­tion in pub­lic spa­ces.”

The pri­mary pur­pose be­hind the com­mu­nity en­gage­ment ini­tia­tive was to ad­dress the up­com­ing le­gal­iza­tion of cannabis and in­form the creation of a Cannabis Con­sump­tion By­law.

“If the Town of High River does not bring a By­law into force prior to cannabis le­gal­iza­tion, cannabis con­sump­tion in pub­lic spa­ces would be per­mit­ted be­cause there would not be a lo­cal By­law pro­hibit­ing pub­lic con­sump­tion of cannabis,” says Genereux.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the Town used the com­mu­nity en­gage­ment process to col­lect feed­back on the cur­rent Smok­ing By­law, which had not been up­dated since 2003.

The over­all re­sults of the com­mu­nity en­gage­ment process in­di­cated:

• 81 per cent of re­spon­dents were in favour of elim­i­nat­ing smok­ing at child and fit­ness-fo­cused pub­lic fa­cil­i­ties.

• 69 per cent of re­spon­dents did not want to see cannabis con­sump­tion in pub­lic spa­ces.

• 68 per cent of re­spon­dents were not in favour of grant­ing an ex­emp­tion for med­i­cal cannabis con­sumers.

• 51 per cent of re­spon­dents were in favour of a med­i­cal ex­emp­tion fol­low­ing the Smok­ing By­law and 25 per cent were in favour of those with a med­i­cal ex­emp­tion utiliz­ing des­ig­nated ar­eas for pub­lic con­sump­tion.

Rec­om­men­da­tions from the com­mu­nity en­gage­ment re­port were used to in­form a new Cannabis Con­sump­tion By­law 4553/2018 and up­date the cur­rent Smok­ing By­law 4545/2018, which were both pre­sented to Coun­cil as first read­ings af­ter the re­sults of com­mu­nity en­gage­ment were shared.

Fol­low­ing the first read­ings of the Cannabis Con­sump­tion By­law, Coun­cil di­rected Town Ad­min­is­tra­tion to sched­ule a pub­lic hear­ing for Oct. 9.

The sec­ond and fi­nal read­ing of the by­law will also take place at that meet­ing.

The full com­mu­nity en­gage­ment re­port on the pub­lic con­sump­tion of cannabis is avail­able on the Town’s web­site and pro­vides de­tails on the steps be­ing taken to le­gal­ize cannabis sales and reg­u­late pub­lic con­sump­tion at the Fed­eral, Pro­vin­cial and Mu­nic­i­pal lev­els, in­clud­ing a full time­line of the le­gal­iza­tion process to date.

The re­port also clar­i­fies some facts and fic­tions about cannabis con­sump­tion in pub­lic spa­ces and pro­vides anal­y­sis of the sur­vey re­sponses as well as the ver­ba­tim com­ments the Town re­ceived on the sur­vey.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the on­go­ing cannabis le­gal­iza­tion process, please visit high­river.ca/cannabis.

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