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Lacombe begins laying out cannabis regulations

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

The City of Lacombe is finally beginning to lay out guidelines for sale and use of cannabis ahead of its pending legalization.

 

At their regular meeting on Monday, council endorsed recommendations put forward by the Cannabis Readiness Committee, which included aligning consumption with that of alcohol, as well as land use regulations for the product’s retail.

Overall, the committee says the regulations will be less restrictive than those in nearby communities, permitting the sale of cannabis in the city’s downtown core (C1 and C3) as well as light industrial (LI) districts. Discretionary use for retail would be considered in C2 Neighbourhood and C4 Highway Commercial Districs, as well as C5 Shopping Centre and DC2 Direct Control districts.

Mayor Grant Creasey called it a common sense approach, however, the retail sale land use recommendations, didn’t sit well with the entirety of council.

Coun. Chris Ross expressed concern over 50th St. near Youth Unlimited being part of the permitted use for cannabis retail sales, as well as the Winks location near Lacombe Composite High School.

Coun. Reuben Konnik furthered that, adding he’d like to see all areas of the community be discretionary for retail sales.

“We’ve got 10 liquor stores and we (could have) 10 cannabis locations. It seems to me the way to curb that is that it all be discretionary,” he said. “You can make the argument that yes, the market will dictate...but I’d like to see this controlled a bit.”

Coun. Jonathan Jacobson, who sits on the committee that put forward the recommendations, said it was important for council to differentiate between retail sales and consumption.

While people may be able to buy and vend cannabis, he said there will zero tolerance for public consumption of cannabis.

Further, he said there was a certain prejudice surrounding cannabis.

“It was the work of the committee to tackle those preconceived ideas of what acceptable public behaviour is and put that in the context of what we’re trying to do,” he said. “Think of it from a public enjoyment perspective. What’s more detrimental to youth in the downtown area – people purchasing cannabis to take home, or stumbling out of Ugly’s or Cilantro and Chive?

“I genuinely believe that having this common sense approach to the retail end of it and being strict on the consumption component speaks to a lot of concerns.”

The recommendations are fully support by Lacombe Police Service Chief Lorne Blumhagen, according to Jacobson, who added that he felt the pending legalization of cannabis was a bit like the bogeyman – nothing to be afraid of.

“Cannabis is already here,” he said. “All this is going to do is legalize it. The only people who are going to be negatively affected by the laws were those not following them in the first place.”

The recommendations will now be put into a separate bylaw, which will be brought before council at a future meeting. 



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