Come Wednesday, recreation cannabis will be officially legal across the country.
Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, was passed in November 2017 and in June, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the recreational use of marijuana would no longer violate the criminal law starting Oct. 17, 2018.
The federal government tasked individual provinces and territories to determine how they want to handle legalization, such as method of distribution and minimum age of use, with no two in the provinces laying out the exact same framework.
Below is a breakdown of what you need to know provincially and locally ahead of legalization on Wednesday.
Legalization in Alberta
Here in Alberta, anyone 18-years and older will be able to purchase marijuana legally.
It can be bought from private-sector retail stores. AGLC has signed agreements with 17 licensed producers to supply cannabis products. This licence allows retailers to order and have products shipped to retail locations in preparation for legalization so they are legally ready to open their doors to the public on Wednesday.
AGLC anticipates a steady increase in the number of operational stores across the province and expects to see roughly 250 stores in business by the end of the first year.
These stores have to be physically separate from retailers that sell alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceuticals and won’t be allowed to sell anything but cannabis and cannabis-related products. Edibles are not yet legal to sell. Kids also can’t enter any cannabis stores, even with an adult.
Until a reatail location opens here in the RMWB, cannabis in Alberta can be purchased online through the government-run website albertacannabis.org.
Thirty grams is the most you can buy or carry at a time. If you want to grow your own at home, the province is limiting it to four plants per household.
More information on legalization in Alberta can be found on the government’s website.
Rules in the RMWB
The RMWB has laid out its initial rules and regulations surrounding cannabis use in the region following a number of public engagement sessions and an online survey earlier this year.
To be ready for Wednesday, the municipality has made changes to its Land Use Bylaw and License Bylaw and has approved a new Smoking and Vaping Bylaw.
The RMWB adopted 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, marijuana will be prohibited in the same places as tobacco; any spaces accessible to the public, both indoors and outdoors. Resident can use it on their property and in their home or apartment – if the building allows it.
Four plants can be grown at home, in a fenced backyard, in an accessory structure, and in apartment units.
Cannabis stores will need to be 150 metres from schools and health centres in Fort McMurray and 100 metres in the rural hamlets. Production facilities have 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.
Council is holding a public hearing on Tuesday, Oct. 23 where they will go over all the details residents need to know.
Local school districts, Keyano College ready for legalization
Fort McMurray’s school districts are outlining their policies for marijuana use.
The FMPSD and FMCSD will be bringing in similar rules for their students, teachers, and staff.
This includes treating marijuana like they do with alcohol – zero tolerance on school grounds.
Both districts don’t believe there will be a rise in incidents once cannabis becomes legal.
Cannabis won’t be allowed on Keyano College property either once its legal.
The school says they are banning marijuana use on all of its property, including the dorms, such as Clearwater Hall.
Despite most of the students being of age, Keyano notes they are next to Composite High School and many kids also use their facilities during and after school.
That said, the college will have accommodations in place for people who are prescribed medical marijuana.
Nothing new for Alberta RCMP
Alberta RCMP is upping its game ahead of the legalization of marijuana.
Since the federal government announced their plans for cannabis, the Mounties have been working on updating their prevention measures, engagement, intelligence, security screening, and training.
The RCMP plans on training one-third of their members across Alberta in conducting ‘Standard Field Sobriety Tests’ by 2020. So far, over 400 officers are trained to do so.
However, if a Mountie believes the driver is driving impaired, they will give them the test.
The province is following federal regulations when it comes to setting limits for THC levels. There are three categories with the bigger consequences happening to those who drive with 5 nanograms per millilitre of THC or more.
The police are also reminding people to plan ahead and always avoid driving impaired.
“This is nothing new for us, impaired driving by drug – we’ve been enforcing that for many years, so with the addition of new tools and technology we’ll continue that,” said Chief Superintendent Brad Mueller.
– With files from Elizabeth Priest and Jaryn Vecchio