Calgary city council passes bylaw prohibiting marijuana consumption in public

A photo of Calgary City Hall taken in the fall of 2017. Dani Lantela/Global News/File

When cannabis becomes legal later this year, Calgarians wanting to light up a joint will be confined to their private homes in order to do so.

By a vote of 10-4 on Thursday, Calgary city council prohibited the public consumption of marijuana in the city. Medical marijuana users — protected by a charter right — are exempt from the bylaw.

However, one city councillor expressed grave concerns about the conundrum the bylaw poses for some of his constituents.

“Whether you’re a business traveller coming to the city, a tourist coming to the city, or live in an apartment, we’ve effectively banned consumption of marijuana for that group of people,” Evan Woolley said.

READ MORE: Calgary city council decides where future cannabis shops can set up

Watch below: City councillors set rules Thursday around where Calgary’s future cannabis retail stores can be located. Joel Senick explains what they’re modelling the bylaw after.

Click to play video: 'Calgary city council decides where cannabis stores can operate'
Calgary city council decides where cannabis stores can operate

Calgary’s downtown Beltline neighbourhood — home to numerous condos and apartment buildings — comprises a portion of Woolley’s constituents. Many multi-unit dwellings in the city prohibit smoking indoors. Some also ban any smoking on balconies and in communal spaces.

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“It’s not an insignificant group of people,” Woolley said. “Remember, 36 per cent of Calgarians are renters. Sixty-eight per cent of the people I represent are renters.

“Effectively, we’re saying there’s no space for [them] to consume cannabis.”

Mayor Naheed Nenshi disagreed with Woolley’s estimation of just how many people were affected by the ban, calling it a “relatively small portion of people,” but added he doesn’t dismiss the concern.

“We do have to get that right,” Nenshi said. “But the right answer to that was not to let everybody smoke everywhere.”

Some city councillors and administration mused about cannabis lounges being a potential solution down the road, but current provincial laws do not allow for such businesses.

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