Canada: Clearing The Haze As Legal Marijuana Looms

Photo Credit: Darryl Dyck

Ready or not, here it comes, Calgary.

The much-ballyhooed, and much-debated, changes to Canada’s pot laws are coming Oct. 17.

The societal change is quite immense. A substance prohibited for the past 95 years will now flip over to being legal, within certain restrictions which vary in different municipalities and provinces, including our own.

Which brings us to Calgary, where bureaucrats seem to be struggling on how to effectively deal with what will be a legal substance.

Postmedia writer Bill Kaufmann reports city hall is looking at setting up consumption areas in public parks. They will be heavily restricted, and not be within 100 meters of a playground, 150 meters from a school, in natural areas or in off-leash parks.

And those areas will only be developed through public consultation.

In other words: more bureaucracy.

Sound complicated? Here are two other things to go before council.

None of the consumption spaces can be within 30 meters of a residence. And, on top of that, administrators also recommend festivals be allowed to designate pot smoking areas apart from the main audience.

Remember, this will be on top of the blanket public pot use ban already adopted by council, which leaves those living in a non-smoking multi-family dwellings with no place to consume the drug.

When Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the implementation date, he was effectively delaying the legislation about a month to give larger provinces — like Quebec — enough time to get their houses in order around regulation, production, distribution and consumption of the product.

For its part, the Alberta government maintains it will be ready.

“Our government has built a system for legalized cannabis focused on keeping cannabis out of the hands of children, keeping profits away from criminals, and protecting Alberta’s roads, workplaces and public spaces,” stated provincial Justice Minster Kathleen Ganley.

Let’s hope she is right.

To begin with, police will use standardized sobriety exercises backed up by blood tests to check for impairment.

Eventually, roadside devices set up specifically for marijuana are expected.

Those are currently being tested. Police aren’t completely convinced of their viability, but like most things around the changes, we will see once testing is complete.

For businesses getting into the marijuana game, the clarity on the date should serve as a relief.

We should see a robust and vibrant retail environment for marijuana out of the blocks on Oct. 17.

With the delay, there really is no excuse for either governments or businesses not to be ready. In Calgary, let’s hope it doesn’t get even more complicated.