Conservative on Cannabis Consumption

All Edmontonians should have the opportunity to live their lives free from the harmful impacts of drugs, second-hand smoke and alcohol. With this in mind, I plan to make amendments to the proposed bylaw at Council next week to restrict cannabis consumption in parks where there are playgrounds and sports fields and especially where there are parks that are primarily programmed for children. We must stay in line with the City’s principle of drug, alcohol and tobacco-free youth and protect all Edmontonians from unwanted repercussions of cannabis legalization. As the country makes this transition, it’s imperative that we be prepared to maintain restrictions on cannabis consumption to align with Edmonton’s goals to promote a healthy, livable city.

Jurisdiction
The Provincial government has jurisdiction over certain regulations regarding cannabis, such as distribution from producers to stores, and Provincial licenses for cannabis retailers. These Provincial regulations were developed based on the Federal objectives of limiting youth access, restricting the illegal market, public health concerns, and keeping public spaces, roads and workplaces safe. Municipal and Provincial governments share responsibilities regarding legislation such as public consumption, retail locations, and separation distances.

The City takes particular interest in three key areas of cannabis regulation: Zoning and land use, business licensing, and public consumption. Regulation of these areas is important for the municipality as it has a direct impact on the daily lives of Edmontonians, business owners, and communities.

Zoning
Administration has determined the framework for land use zoning in alignment with provincial and federal principles and regulations. This framework determines cannabis store locations and the required zoning for their storefronts in relation to other landmarks. The current proposal for cannabis store zoning states that there must be a minimum of:

  • 200 metres between a cannabis store and a school or public library
  • 100 metres between a cannabis store and a park, recreation centre, or provincial health care facility
  • 200 metres between cannabis stores

These regulations are in place to limit youth access to cannabis and avoid clustering of cannabis storefronts in the city.

Business Licensing
Administration regulates business licensing in the city to ensure that the legal parameters of cannabis sales is being maintained. These regulations include business hour guidelines and age verification processes.

Public Places
This is a particularly important area of legislation for the City. The regulation of cannabis consumption in public spaces is paramount in keeping with the City’s goal for drug, alcohol, and tobacco-free youth, and the health of Edmontonians overall. The current guidelines being discussed by council state that consumption must be at least 10 meters from a doorway, and at least 30 meters from any park.

There are 4 key principles underpinning these regulations, which were developed to guide bylaw amendments and the future of cannabis consumption legislation in Edmonton. These are:

  • Public health and safety
  • Keeping drugs, alcohol and tobacco away from youth
  • Business friendly
  • Balanced approach to community perspectives

To ensure the health of the public and stay in alignment with our goals as a municipality, we must limit public use of cannabis - especially wherever youth may be impacted. I would like to see cannabis consumption restricted from parks that have recreation or sports programming, playgrounds, or children’s activities. Cannabis use in public spaces is inevitable, as there is no equitable way to restrict consumption to private property, because many citizens do not own land, and therefore would be at a disadvantage when it comes to this issue. This is why we need to restrict public consumption and limit its presence in public spaces as much as possible, while still allowing for an equitable approach for consumption. The outlook of Edmonton is changing along with cannabis legalization, and the City’s regulation must, above all else, align with our goals for a healthy, inclusive community and drug, alcohol, and tobacco-free youth.