Marijuana industry has big questions as Calgary looks at banning pot in public

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WATCH: The City of Calgary is looking at imposing a new bylaw that would ban smoking pot in public. But as Lauren Pullen reports, critics say there are still big questions that need to be answered – Apr 2, 2018

Smoking marijuana will be legal across Canada in just a few months, but depending on where you live there are still grey areas about where people will legally be able smoke it.

The Alberta government has unveiled its rules, with pot smoking prohibited in public places including schools, hospitals and various other spots where kids are usually present.

The City of Calgary is taking that one step farther by proposing an all-out ban on smoking pot in public.

READ MORE: City of Calgary floats idea of cannabis use ban in public spaces

Now, some in the marijuana industry are raising questions about the proposed bylaw.

“Let’s be realistic, people are going to smoke it just like they’re going to smoke cigarettes,” president of the Canadian Cannabis Association Linsday Blackett said.

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“We have designated areas for people to smoke. You go to the Saddledome, you go to a game, there’s a designated smoking area. There should be a designated [marijuana] smoking area as well.”

The second annual Cannabis and Hemp Expo is coming to Calgary this weekend and organizers said they expect the proposed bylaw to be a hot topic at the event.

“I know that question is going to come up throughout the weekend,” said expo show director Kevin Blackburn. “It’ll be interesting to get feedback from our exhibitors and even consumers at the show as well, what direction the city should move in.”

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

Another big question is how the Calgary Police Service (CPS) would enforce the bylaw if it passed.

In a statement to Global News on Monday, CPS said it supported the city aligning its proposed bylaw on smoking marijuana with the regulations in place for alcohol consumption.


“We have been at the table from the beginning, and have been working with our partners both on a municipal and provincial level, to ensure we are part of the conversation and resource implications were identified early on,” CPS said.

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“Ensuring public safety is the primary goal of the police. Current bylaws in relation to the consumption of alcohol assist in managing crowd dynamics at unplanned events. Officers always employ the use of discretion, in conjunction with voluntary compliance, when it comes to enforcement of those bylaws.”

But Calgary’s police association president Les Kaminski said Monday he doesn’t think CPS will be able to enforce the bylaw.

“We don’t have the time or resources,” Kaminski said.

There are also questions about different rules for those smoking cannabis for medicinal reasons.

“They’re saying medical users will be exempt from it, but where do you draw the line?” Blackburn said. “It’s going to be tough to enforce I think.”

Both Blackett and a spokesperson for CPS said they will be at Tuesday’s council meeting where the Community and Protective Services committee is expected to address the proposed bylaw.

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