Town council chews some more on cannabis conundrum

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Slave Lake town council took a second crack last week at the rules regarding exclusion zones around schools for cannabis retail stores, and related matters. This time, maps showing 30, 40 and 50-metre setback zones around schools were on display – next to the 100-metre one from two weeks before.

The problem councillors had with the 100 metres (which is recommended by the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission), is that it sterilizes (mayor Warman’s term) most of the downtown commercial district, which has three schools in close proximity.

“I’m comfortable with 50 metres,” said councillor Rebecca King. “I think it’s a good compromise.”

Most of her colleagues agreed, councillor Brice Ferguson excepted.
“I don’t think that’s far enough,” Ferguson said. “I’d be in favour of 100 metres.”

Warman asked him if that means he’s in favour of forcing cannabis retail sales into the industrial areas of town.

“There are other areas,” Ferguson said. “We’re trying to ram a square peg into a round hole.”

Councillor Julie Brandle said she could live with the 50 metres too.
“We have an open house this week,” she said. “If we’re wrong, we’ll take it.”

Council passed no motion on the matter. However, its proposal for setbacks was presented at the Sept. 5 open house.

Cannabis, Part II

Public consumption of cannabis is the other area in which municipalities have a say, and council discussed the direction it would like to go. There seem to be two, broadly speaking. One is to regard cannabis smoking similarly to cigarettes; the other is to treat it more like alcohol.

In the first case, smoking cannabis would be allowed where tobacco smoking is allowed and not where it isn’t. In the second, it would pretty much be banned in public, except in special circumstances.

Councillors are leaning pretty strongly toward the latter option, i.e. treating it like booze.

How about medicinal marijuana though – should an exception be made there for public consumption?

“I don’t agree,” said councillor Shawn Gramlich.

“I agree,” said mayor Warman. “It would open the door to a whole bunch of enforcement issues. I’m for zero public consumption.”

Council voted to also bring that position to the open house to see how the public reacts.

Maps showing various setback options from schools.

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