St. Albert won’t allow any cannabis consumption in public places

A marijuana joint is shared at Cannabis Culture in Montreal, Friday, December 16, 2016.
A marijuana joint is shared at Cannabis Culture in Montreal, Friday, December 16, 2016. Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press

City councillors in St. Albert have decided to ban the public consumption of cannabis outright, even after it becomes legal on Oct. 17.

“Originally, we were going to just add cannabis into our smoking bylaw,” Mayor Cathy Heron said. “Wherever you could smoke tobacco, you could smoke cannabis. We did a survey and our residents were mostly in favour of a little bit more restrictions towards cannabis.”

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“One of my council colleagues, Ken MacKay, proposed an amendment which was the complete ban of cannabis. After some debate — we did talk about just banning the smoking and the vaping of it, that was actually a close vote but that failed — and so we actually banned the smoking, vaping and consumption.”

In a unanimous vote on Monday night, council agreed on a citywide ban that includes smoking, vaping and edibles.

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“So you can’t even take the product and bake it into something that you can eat for your own personal use,” Heron said. “You can’t even use that publicly in St. Albert.”

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Under the bylaw, no one in St. Albert will be allowed to consume cannabis in any form unless they’re on their own private property.

“We erred on the side of caution,” Heron said. “Instead of having looser legislation and bylaws around it and then tightening it up if we failed; it’s much easier to have it tight and loosen it up later.”

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Councillors believe that a complete public ban will also be easier to enforce.

“The proposed bylaw that staff had brought was… you could smoke it on sidewalks if you were walking or this far away from air intakes. That makes it hard. A complete ban is a little easier to enforce,” the mayor said.

She said council will likely want to revisit and review the bylaw in about a year.