Prior to the nation-wide legalization of cannabis Oct. 17, Rocky View County’s (RVC) Policy and Priorities Committee (PPC) considered a draft cannabis consumption bylaw at a meeting Oct. 2.
According to Angie Keibel, manager of Legislative and Legal Services, RVC can choose to enact light, moderate or strict regulations. Light regulations, Keibel said, would rely on provincial regulations for cannabis. Moderate regulations means the County adds restrictions on top of the established provincial regulations – either regulating specific areas of the County, or covering spaces like parks and sidewalks not already covered by the province’s policy. Strict regulations would result in cannabis consumption being allowed only within a private residence.
“Strict regulation is what administration has proposed,” Keibel said.
The consumption of edibles was not included in the bylaw, she added, as it remains illegal under federal legislation. Likewise, cannabis cafés and smoking lounges were not written into the bylaw.
The ensuing discussion provided some insight into how council might vote when the draft bylaw is considered Oct. 16. Opening up the discussion, Coun. Al Schule favoured a strict approach to cannabis consumption in RVC.
“I think the strict one is a combination of smoking and liquor,” Schule said. “I feel if you can’t drink in public, walking on the streets, you shouldn’t be able to smoke, either.”
A strict approach was also favoured by Deputy Reeve Jerry Gautreau, as well as Couns. Crystal Kissell and Samanntha Wright.
“I think we need to be strict,” Kissell said. “If we’re going to make a statement, let’s make a statement.… If somebody doesn’t like the bylaw, we can always change it. There’s always that luxury.”
Reeve Greg Boehlke expressed a desire to amend and raise the fines associated with the bylaw, once it goes before council for approval. Boehlke said, in his opinion, the County’s fines on alcohol are not high enough, and he did not want to see the same situation with cannabis.
Two councillors expressed dissenting opinions. Coun. Kevin Hanson said he saw no problem with consumption at licensed public spaces.
“It really should be treated no differently than alcohol,” he said. “If you want to go chill out and have a coffee and whatever, and you have a responsible adult driving you home, I see no difference between that and operating a bar.”
Committee chair Coun. Kim McKylor favoured a moderate approach, noting a bylaw could always be made stricter.
“I’m probably the lone wolf on this,” she said. “I would rather come at this with a little bit of a softer touch and let’s see where it goes, rather than come down with a stick and assume that it’s going to go south.”
The committee voted unanimously to send the draft bylaw to council. Coun. Mark Kamachi was absent from the meeting.