What did 15,000 Calgarians have to say about legalizing marijuana?

Click to play video: 'Calgarians say they are ready to buy legal pot safely and conveniently'
Calgarians say they are ready to buy legal pot safely and conveniently
Mon, Feb 12: A City of Calgary pot survey got the highest response of any city engagement project in 2017. Gary Bobrovitz reports – Feb 13, 2018

As part of the City of Calgary’s plan to prepare for the legalization of marijuana, officials sought the input of Calgarians using online and in-person surveys.

More than 15,000 residents had their say on everything from business regulations to retail sales, home growing and consumption.

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“The public online feedback form received the highest volume of citizen input of The City’s 2017 engagement projects,” Matt Zabloski, the city’s lead for the cannabis legalization project said in a Monday news release.

“We’re very pleased that so many Calgarians took part and shared with us their attitudes and opinions.”

So what do think the city should and should’t do to make the change as seamless as possible?

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Online results

While many participants didn’t have preferred locations for retail locations, 59 per cent said cannabis retail stores should have the same hours as liquor stores, which operate between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m.

Alternatively, 26 per cent believe the stores should have shorter hours and 15 per cent said the dispensaries should be open for longer hours.

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The majority of respondents also said the marijuana retail locations should have minimum distance restrictions between places like elementary and high schools and organizations like drug treatment centres.

“Locating stores next to police stations or in high traffic, well-lit areas were also suggested as ways to provide additional safety measures,” the results said.

What did 15,000 Calgarians have to say about legalizing marijuana? - image
City of Calgary

The majority of online participants, 42 per cent, said they didn’t know enough about Alberta’s liquor consumption laws to say whether the cannabis consumption should be the same. Twenty-five per cent said cannabis laws should be more restrictive, 32 per cent said they should be the same.

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Forty-seven per cent of respondents said the city’s smoking bylaw should also apply to public marijuana consumption.

What did 15,000 Calgarians have to say about legalizing marijuana? - image
City of Calgary

When it comes to locations people should be able to grow their own marijuana, respondents were very divided; 25 per cent said in homes, 22 per cent said in a greenhouse, 26 per cent said in sheds and 22 per cent said in garages.

Five per cent said people should be able to grow anywhere, both in their homes and in their backyards or balcony.

As for rentals and condos, the city said there was “mixed feedback” on whether that should be allowed.

In-person results

The city said some retail locations should be located close to liquor stores to allow for a “one-stop-shop” experience for convenience and accessibility.

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Many of the people who answered the surveys in person also said the city should apply the same separation distances that they do with liquor store locations to cannabis retailers. They also said retailers should be located throughout the city to make them accessible for anyone to prevent illegal buying and selling.

What’s next?

As for next steps, city officials will now consider all the results gathered and put together a “What We Did” report, which will be shared sometime this winter.

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It’s expected officials will present the bylaw amendments to council in April. If approved, those changes will be implemented and a permit process development plan will get underway ahead of legalization, which is expected in July.

The entire breakdown of the cannabis legalization engagement results can be found on the city’s website.

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