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Blackfalds places moratorium on cannabis business permits

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

Those looking to get a jump on opening up a cannabis shop or cafe in Blackfalds shouldn’t get their hopes up too high - at least not yet.

On Tuesday, the town placed a moratorium on all cannabis related development permits until the Land Use Bylaw is successfully amended to accommodate cannabis legalization and has received final approval.

The moratorium - a temporary ban - includes, but is not limited to, development permits regarding production, distribution, wholesale, retail and consumption of cannabis in any form.

While the town doesn’t want to drive away the opportunity to reap economic development benefits of cannabis businesses setting up shop in the community - inquiries are already being made by interested parties - Blackfalds wants to be able to regulate and control it to safeguard their citizens.

“We’re being responsible by making sure we get it right,” said Deputy Mayor Will Taylor. “This has been an enormous download from the federal government to the provincial government...and it’s been more grassroots up from the municipalities. Smaller communities who don’t have our resources are depending on us to get it right, too.

“I don’t think there will be any concern if they have to wait a month or two if we get it right.”

Changes to the Land Use Bylaw are expected to be made in the fall to align with pending federal government legislation regarding regulation, sale and cultivation of recreational cannabis, as well as changes to the criminal code.

Amendments will include the draft of an entirely new section - Part 6 - as well as the updating of definitions, adding regulations regarding cannabis retail stores including setback distances and public consumption.

To that end, council has also moved ahead with the formation of a Cannabis Advisory Committee, similar to that put in place by the City of Lacombe.

The committee will have three sub-committees focused on Land Use, Policing and Enforcement, and Social and Human Resources.

Councillors Jaime Hoover, Rebecca Stendie, and Laura Svab will each sit on the respective sub-committees, while Mayor Richard Poole will also sit on all three committees and the main advisory committee.

According to a preliminary schedule, the kick off meeting of the main Community Cannabis Advisory Committee will be held June 21. In September, it will review recommendations put forward by the sub-committees and formally bring a submission to council sometime in October.

New and amended bylaws and policy will then be brought forward to council for adoption. 

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