October 24th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 43
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Hashing out the cannabis law in the Crowsnest Pass
Legislation legalizing cannabis came into effect across Canada one week ago
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
ANNA KROUPINA
Pass Herald Reporter
One week ago, on October 17,2018, legislation legalizing cannabis in Canada came into effect. Here are some things you might want to know that may be relevant to you.

Legislation around the production, sale and consumption of cannabis is enacted at the federal, provincial and, possibly, the municipal level. Federal legislation is the broadest and, as it trickles down the other forms of government, regulations become more restrictive.

Across Alberta, adults 18 years and older can purchase cannabis products from both private retail stores and government online sales. The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission (AGLC) regulates the cannabis industry similarly to that of alcohol. Licensed retailers are the only private stores that can sell cannabis products, and cannabis cannot be sold in the same facility as alcohol and must adhere to setback limits.

POSESSION In Alberta, adults may possess up to 30 grams of legally produced dried recreational cannabis in public. Any more than that is illegal, and may result in criminal penalties.

MOTOR VEHICLES Cannabis consumption while in care and control of a motor vehicle was and remains prohibited by zero tolerance. This means that you cannot operate a vehicle while impaired, smoke in a vehicle or have cannabis products within reach, essentially the same regulations as those that exist for alcohol.

“It’s no different from going to the liquor store and putting the bag of whatever you bought on your front seat. By law, that’s illegal. It can’t be within access of the driver,” says RCMP Staff Sergeant Greg Wiebe. “It's the same for marijuana. Our biggest concern will be visible product sitting in access of the driver where it’s not supposed to be, or consuming it in the car.”
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All members of the Crowsnest Pass RCMP detachment have completed (or will be shortly) a mandatory online Introduction to Cannabis Legislation course relating to how to consistently apply the new laws on cannabis and drug-impaired driving.

According to a news conference held on October 12, the RCMP will be equipped with government-approved devices that are able to test for impairment, but there has been a delay in receiving them.

Until then, when dealing with roadside impairment, the Crowsnest Pass RCMP detachment is using the Standard Field Sobriety Test (SFST) and Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) evaluations, performed by officers trained in conducting sobriety testing outside of a device. The DREs are trained to perform standardized psycho-physical tests and use clinical indicators to determine whether a driver is impaired. Pincher Creek currently has one SFST-trained member and Crowsnest Pass is training one soon.

PUBLIC CONSUMPTION Within the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, cannabis products may be consumed in public places, with provincial legislation making exceptions for inside cars, around children, and wherever tobacco is restricted.

At a meeting on October 2, 2018, Council had directed Administration to draft a bylaw prohibiting cannabis consumption in public.

“People shouldn’t have to walk down the street and smell this,” said Councillor Marlene Anctil, who had brought up this discussion point.
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“I want us to have a stringent bylaw. The smell of that stuff is going to permeate everywhere in this community until we get our act together and make sure we have designated areas,” said Councillor Lisa Sygutek.

A draft bylaw has not yet been drafted for Council’s consideration, but once it has, it will go through a public hearing. The municipality will also be seeking legal counsel in developing the bylaw.

Smoking in private residences is legal, but renters need to abide by their rental agreement.

CANNABIS AND YOUTH The RCMP will continue to conduct cannabis education in Crowsnest Pass schools.

“Constable [Peter] Boland attended the high school last week and did a presentation regarding the legalization of marijuana. I imagine we’ll try and incorporate that more and more through our school liaisons,” says RCMP Corporal Joshua Atkinson. “Every school is assigned a member or two and their responsibility is to go into that school on a regular basis and interact with the students and teachers. Through that process, they will be able to educate the schools on the legalization of marijuana and additional enforcement rules.”

GROWING PAINS While some people around Canada welcomed the change with a celebration – with “pot parties” and defiant public consumption – Wiebe says the local RCMP detachment has received no cannabis-related complaints or flaunting of civic rights since legalization.

With this brand new industry introduced to Canada, Wiebe says “growing pains” are expected until law enforcement and the community become accustomed to and knowledgeable about the regulations.

“We’re all becoming educated the best we can and we want to be fair and respectful when this comes up. This is a new thing for everybody so for minor infractions, there might be a lot of education going on at first,” says Wiebe, adding that while there may be a leniency towards public consumption, there is a zero tolerance for impaired driving.

For more information on cannabis in Alberta, visit AGLC website or www.alberta.ca/cannabis-legalization.aspx. Questions can also be directed to our local Crowsnest Pass RCMP detachment.
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October 24th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 43
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