Calgary city council held an education session Monday to discuss the legalization of marijuana, ahead of federal legislation expected in June.
The meeting was heavily focused on regulation, taxation and social support systems.
Council heard from representatives from other cities who they believe have successfully implemented this legislation already.
Denver, Colo. was the first city in the United States to introduce legalized marijuana for both recreational and medical use in 2012 and 2014 respectively. Denver citywide communications advisor, Dan Rowland, believes Calgary is on the right track, but had some cautionary advice.
“It’s not a windfall. It won’t fix any government’s fiscal issues.”
“In order to regulate it properly you have to put resources back in to the city itself,” Rowland said.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi believes this can be an opportunity for the city to create more jobs.
Nenshi said city bylaws might be able to cover certain issues the federal laws do not regulate, like current bylaws related to tobacco smoking in public spaces.
Jeff Mooij, owner and operator of 420 Clinic in Calgary, believes the perception around cannabis comes from a lack of education on the use of marijuana.
“We just need to look at facts. We’ve had years of stigma.”
Councillor Sean Chu addressed the impact marijuana would have on Calgary’s youth. He discussed the safer options youth would have if marijuana was regulated by the government. Chu proposed getting ahead of potential abuse by having the marijuana industry pay for certain support systems once cannabis is legalized.
“We often hear that people say marijuana is the gateway drug to others,” Chu said.
City of Calgary spokesperson and former Calgary police officer Richard Hines believes the use of cannabis is inevitable whether or not it is legalized. Hines said the real question is how Calgary can regulate the use of marijuana.