Town plans for pro­vin­cial cannabis le­gal­iza­tion

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Terri Hux­ley The Drumheller Mail

Pri­vate cannabis re­tail­ers in Al­berta will have a strict set of rules to fol­low, in­clud­ing manda­tory back­ground checks, when cannabis is ex­pected to be­come le­gal some time this sum­mer.

The Town of Drumheller is well on its way to fig­ur­ing out a sys­tem that best fits the pop­u­la­tion as a fi­nal line of reg­u­la­tion for the sub­stance.

“We will be ob­li­gated to fol­low the pro­vin­cial laws,” said Greg Peters, Direc­tor of Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices for the Town of Drumheller. “We can’t pass a by­law that would con­flict with the pro­vin­cial law, it’s equal force re­ally. We have to abide by both of them [fed­eral and pro­vin­cial law] so there may be some lo­cal things worked in to it that we see ad­van­ta­geous that doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily con­flict and is to­tally agree­able af­ter we re­view it with the town so­lic­i­tor.”

Safety has been the main fo­cus from both mu­nic­i­pal and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment.

“When we see what the Fed’s come up with by the way of fed­eral leg­is­la­tion and the use of it in the op­er­a­tion of ma­chin­ery, we will in­cor­po­rate that as well into our lo­cal safety pol­icy be­cause safety is king and we don’t bar­gain on safety in com­pli­ance with all the laws,” con­tin­ued Peters.

The pro­vin­cial reg­u­la­tions out­line who can own cannabis stores, where they can be lo­cated, rules for staff, safety and se­cu­rity re­quire­ments, and other op­er­a­tional de­tails for pri­vate re­tail­ers.

While the reg­u­la­tions will be es­tab­lished provincewi­de, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties will have the abil­ity to ad­just cer­tain as­pects to best suit their com­mu­ni­ties.

Manda­tory back­ground checks for re­tail li­cence ap­pli-

cants will be re­quired as well as manda­tory train­ing and back­ground checks for all re­tail em­ploy­ees.

“If it’s a by­law, our by­laws at least the ones I’ve been privy to are hand-in-hand putting to­gether all by­law of­fi­cers, the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, and who­ever is in the RCMP are the power to en­force our by­laws,” said Pe- ters.

Busi­nesses that choose to set up shop will have a min­i­mum of a 100-me­tre dis­tance from schools and pro­vin­cial health­care fa­cil­i­ties. Like any mu­nic­i­pal­ity, Drumheller will be able to ad­just these dis­tances to suit the needs and safety of res­i­dents.

“I would like to see more [dis­tance] and I would think we need to take all mea­sures pos­si­ble to guard the safety. We need to take all mea­sures pos­si­ble to en­sure the safety of our chil­dren go­ing to and from school so that’s some­thing we would have to look at as well. A lo­cal pref­er­ence to try to ex­pand that in com­pli­ance with the law.”

The prov­ince asks that store hours are set be­tween 10 a.m. and 2 a.m., the same as liquor stores, with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties able to ad­just these hours as well. There will be manda­tory se­cu­rity mea­sures in stores.

No pri­vately owned store will be able to sell both mar­i­juana and al­co­hol, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and/or to­bacco prod­ucts in the same lo­ca­tion. One per­son, group or or­ga­ni­za­tion can­not hold more than 15 per cent of li­cences in Al­berta.

The Al­berta Gam­ing & Liquor Com­mis­sion (AGLC) will over­see dis­tri­bu­tion, com­pli­ance and en­force­ment of the cannabis re­tail sys­tem in Al­berta. They will have the au­thor­ity to set strict reg­u­la­tory guide­lines and li­cence re­quire­ments for pri­vate cannabis re­tail­ers.

“There’s a bit of ap­pre­hen­sion be­cause it’s new and there’s a lot of peo­ple that think there is a lot of split opin­ions if this is a good or bad thing for the coun­try. There are ex­am­ples in the [United] States of where it has been le­gal­ized that I watch quite closely and even talk to some of­fi­cials down in Colorado and Cal­i­for­nia and Wash­ing­ton so we’re not go­ing in to­tally blind. There’s go­ing to be a lot of con­cern, any new changes are al­ways greeted with a bit of ap­pre­hen­sion and a bit of anx­ious­ness.” said Peters.

Peters ex­plained that the cur­rent draft pol­icy has a long way to go be­fore be­ing set in stone.

“I put a lot of the ideas to­gether but a lot of eyes are go­ing to see it be­fore it’ll be fi­nal­ized,” said Greg.

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