The municipality’s rules and regulations for marijuana are now set ahead of legalization.
Wood Buffalo council held a special meeting on Monday where they discussed everything from retail stores, distances from schools, and growing cannabis at home.
They will be adopting the majority of federal and provincial rules including the minimum age being set at 18 and allowing people to have 30 grams on their possession in public.
As for their own rules, people won’t be allowed to use marijuana in public spaces – only on private property.
“People can consume in their private residence and that’s important and people should be able to do what they want there, as long as its legal,” said Mayor Don Scott.
Four plants can be grown at home, in a fenced backyard, in an accessory structure, and in apartment units.
Stores will need to be 150 metres from schools and health centres in Fort McMurray and 100 metres in the rural hamlets. Production facilities will need to be 300 metres from schools, health centres, alcohol/drug rehabilitation centres, and residential areas. The development officer will be able to vary separation distances up to 10 per cent.
“The rules that have been developed really reflect what we heard and that’s how it should be, so I’m glad with that,” added Scott.
So far, the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission has received 12 applications for a cannabis retail store in Fort McMurray. The municipality says their planning and development department gets around two to three inquiries per day about stores.
The Fort McMurray #468 First Nation is currently moving ahead with building a 24,000 square foot site.
“We’ve certainly had a lot of inquiries, so that tells me there’s going to be a lot of activity – so there’s going to be economic benefit,” said Scott.
Meanwhile, Wood Buffalo’s framework could be a trendsetter across the country.
Executive Director of the Action on Smoking and Health Les Hagen tells Mix News the new bylaw is one of the most progressive they’ve seen.
“It’s going to protect all residents from smoking and vaping, including the youngest residents and that’s the smoking and vaping of anything – whether it involves cannabis, shisha, or tobacco.”
Hagen adds they hope cities like Edmonton and Calgary adopt a similar framework.
Marijuana will officially be legal on October 17.