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Legal cannabis consumption area debuting at 2019 Calgary Folk Music Festival

Cannabis consumption at the 2019 Calgary Folk Music Festival
WATCH ABOVE: The Calgary Folk Music Festival's executive director Sara Leishman discusses their designated cannabis consumption area for their 2019 event with Dallas Flexhaug.

Calgary folk music fans will get a first look at what could become a regular appearance at festivals: a designated cannabis consumption area.

The Calgary Folk Music Festival will have a designated area for festivalgoers to smoke weed they bring to Prince’s Island Park when the event starts on Thursday.

“This is very much a pilot project,” Sara Leishman, Calgary Folk Music Festival’s executive director, told Rob Breakenridge on Global News Radio 770 CHQR on Wednesday.

“It is 18-plus only and people can go in there to consume legal cannabis. So that is smokable cannabis they have acquired by legal means.”

LISTEN: Calgary Folk Music Festival executive director Sara Leishman outlines the cannabis plan for this year’s festival

The area will be monitored by security guards and staff from FOUR20 Premium Market will be on hand managing the designated consumption area on the east side of the island.

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A map of the Calgary Folk Music Festival layout for 2019.
A map of the Calgary Folk Music Festival layout for 2019. Calgary Folk Music Festival

“We will have staff on hand the duration that the site is open to keep the site clean and safe,” Amber Craig, FOUR20’s vice-president of marketing, told Global News. “And then we will be available to provide any education or answer questions people have about cannabis or cannabis consumption.”

FOUR20 staff will also be able to assist cannabis consumers who have medical issues in the designated area.

“We’re not serving them anything but our staff are trained in how to identify if somebody needs any medical assistance,” Craig said.

“We are working directly with the first aid tent and the paramedics onsite at Folk Fest. We have a direct line to them if anybody does need assistance.”

FOUR20 will not be selling any cannabis or related paraphernalia on Prince’s Island Park. And smoking outside of the designated areas is prohibited.

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“You can expect to see an increase of city bylaw, AGLC representatives and Calgary police on the island this year keeping an eye on things,” Leishman said.

“If people are consuming outside of the cannabis area, because they would be contravening a bylaw, they may simply be asked to move to the cannabis area. They may even get a ticket or, depending on the circumstances, [be] escorted from the island.”

The festival began conversations with the City of Calgary and AGLC about a year and a half ago about having this area designated for pot-smoking, resulting in their current plan.

Calgary police are preparing to staff the festival just like any other major event in the city.

“Our officers there are just there to make sure that everybody’s comfortable, everybody’s behaving themselves and that everybody is respecting the rights of everybody else,” Staff Sgt. Kyle Grant told Global News.

Grant noted that officers are up to date with knowledge of the latest cannabis possession laws, including transportation of cannabis in vehicles.

“Getting to the event, you still need to store your cannabis appropriately, similar to alcohol in a vehicle. It can’t be within reach of the driver or the passengers and so it should be stored in the trunk or the storage area of a different kind in the vehicle.”

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Since this is a pilot project, the festival will meet with the city and AGLC in the fall to evaluate how legal cannabis was handled at this year’s event.

“We have every reason to believe that our audience members are going to be great neighbors to one another and play by the rules,” Leishman said.

– With files from Doug Vaessen