WATCH LIVE: Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley speaks about the federal government’s plan to legalize recreational marijuana
One of the most anticipated packages of legislation in recent memory was unveiled Thursday and Alberta cities, as well as the provincial government, are responding.
The federal Liberal government has finally launched its long-awaited effort to legalize recreational marijuana, setting in motion a host of sweeping policy changes for public safety and health across Canada.
“We are pleased the federal government has followed the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization’s recommendation to allow the provinces to set their own policies for the distribution and retailing of recreational marijuana,” Alberta Liquor Store Association president Ivonne Martinez said. “Ottawa’s recognition that provinces are best positioned to make these decisions will no doubt be welcomed across the country.
“Furthermore, we’re encouraged to see the government reject the Task Force’s recommendation to prohibit the co-location of marijuana and alcohol sales.”
Scroll down to read the Alberta Liquor Store Association’s full statement.
The City of Edmonton posted a list of facts and reminders on its website Thursday, outlining current municipal marijuana and cannabis rules and regulations.
“At this time, marijuana or cannabis dispensaries are illegal and are not licensed or permitted by the City of Edmonton.
“City staff are taking proactive measures to prepare for upcoming federal changes regarding the legalization of cannabis and the alignment with the Zoning Bylaw 12800. Municipal controls in this area are only possible if other orders of government provide that role to municipalities,” the website reads.
Visit the city’s website to learn more about the proposed changes to Zoning Bylaw 12800, which include introducing definitions to make sure Edmonton is ready for the introduction of legalization of cannabis sales and consumption, “including classifications for Cannabis Retail Sales and Cannabis Lounges.”
Edmonton city staff members have prepared draft amendments to several bylaws in anticipation of the federal legislation.
Under Edmonton’s current regulations, non-medical production, sale and use of cannabis is illegal and is not licensed or permitted.
Federal legalization could happen as early as summer 2018, but the city said it would take longer to implement legislation at the provincial and possibly, the municipal level.
Through its Land Use Bylaw, Calgary currently regulates businesses that provide medical marijuana counselling. There are restrictions on their location and all businesses require a development permit.
Council is looking at the impact of federal legalization on public health and safety, policing and social supports.
Alberta’s justice minister is expected to discuss the federal legislation Thursday afternoon.
Premier Rachel Notley said marijuana legalization is a very complex issue and it will be a tight timeline to get everything in place.
“We’re going to try very hard to meet those time limits and if we don’t, we’ll have to go back and say, ‘you know what? We need more time.'”
She said she wants to speak with Albertans about the legal age, where it will be sold, among other topics.
“Our government is focused on protecting kids, protecting health, protecting safety in our workplaces and our highways and doing so in a cost-effective way,” the premier said. “It’s a very ambitious project and there’s a lot of work to be done to make sure that we get it right.”
“What is important is that we make the kinds of decisions that keep criminals out of it… and preserve public health and public safety,” Notley said. “I think it’s possible to strike that balance. The path to striking that balance is not absolutely clear yet and we have a lot of work to do to get it right. I think if we get it right, it can work but I also know there’s a lot of heavy lifting to be done to get there.”
— Tom Vernon (@TomVernonGlobal) April 13, 2017
Some of the highlights of the federal legislation include:
– Sales to be restricted to people age 18 and older, although provinces would have the jurisdiction to increase their own minimum age.
– Adults 18 and older would be allowed to publicly possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, or its equivalent in non-dried form.
– Sales by mail or courier through a federally licensed producer would be allowed in provinces that lack a regulated retail system.
– Adults aged 18 and older would be allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants for each residence, with plants not to exceed one metre in height.
– Adults aged 18 and older would also be allowed to produce legal cannabis products, such as food or drinks, for personal use at home.
– At first, sales will entail only fresh and dried cannabis, cannabis oils and seeds and plants for cultivation. Sales of edibles will come later, once regulations for production and sale can be
– Possession, production and distribution outside the legal system would remain illegal, as would imports or exports without a federal permit. Such permits will cover only limited purposes, such
as medical or scientific cannabis and industrial hemp.
– Travellers entering Canada would still be subject to inspections for prohibited goods, including cannabis.
– The existing program for access to medical marijuana would continue as it currently exists.
— With files from The Canadian Press