Calgary won’t have public cannabis consumption sites before legalization date
If you were hoping to be able to legally smoke weed in a designated public space in Calgary once the product is de-criminalized, you’re out of luck.
The city announced on Wednesday that after gathering public feedback on four proposed sites, it has decided not to move forward with designating consumption areas.
The four areas, in Bridgeland, Ogden and Inglewood, were all located in Jean-Carlo Carra’s Ward 9. They would have been exempt from the city’s consumption bylaw which bans any public consumption of recreational marijuana.
Carra said Wednesday he’d first envisioned a network of green benches across the city that would indicate that public consumption was OK.
Once the city passed its cannabis bylaw in August, Carra said it was clear they’d have to establish zones that complied with the city’s criteria for smoking in public.
Carra was also the only member of council that pitched locations in his ward and only four sites met that criteria.
About 1,700 Calgarians gave their input on those four spots and Carra said only about one-quarter of those who responded wanted to see the consumption sites established.
LISTEN: Matt Zabloski joins Danielle Smith to discuss the city’s cannabis legalization process
Carra said the opposition came in three categories: people who were against the legalization of cannabis altogether, people with specific issues with the designated areas, and the worry that having only four spaces in a city the size of Calgary could lead to over-crowding.
“This really is only going to work if there’s a diffuse network of these things and you don’t concentrate them.”
According to the city’s cannabis legalization project lead, Matt Zabloski, councillors can still propose areas in their wards for legal consumption sites — but it’s too late for that to happen before Canada’s legalization date.
“Given the timing obviously, there will not be a designated public consumption area available for Oct. 17,” Zabloski said.
WATCH: Matt Zabloski, lead for the City of Calgary’s cannabis legalization project, provides an update on the proposed designated cannabis consumption areas in Ward 9.
Carra said this development highlights the fact that legalizing cannabis without the opportunity for cafes or lounges is “deeply problematic.”
“Not having a legal place to use a legal substance just sort of shoves this into a grey zone, which is not really what the legalization of cannabis, as I see it, was supposed to be about,” he said.
Public engagement would be part of the process for any proposed marijuana consumption site, Zabloski said, and the feedback would be factored into whether council approved a particular location.
City administration is expected to have a “What we Heard” report available online in the coming weeks.
WATCH BELOW: The city is scrapping plans to set aside four designated cannabis consumption sites after the majority of public feedback came back negative. Blake Lough reports.
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