Cannabis education and information meeting held

Residents learn about facts and ‘puff’ facts

Lacombe County and Alberta Health Services partnered earlier this week to offer residents an opportunity to separate facts from fiction about cannabis.

More than 20 people attended the cannabis 101 session including Bentley Mayor Greg Rathjen.

Rathjen said he doesn’t want to adopt an “us against them,” attitude regarding the legalization of cannabis.

“We have to work together, but we have to respect the rights of the majority.”

Noah Boakye-Yiadom, health promotion facilitator for addictions and mental health for Alberta Health Services explained some of the facts about cannabis.

He said THC and CBD are both found in cannabis.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the compound that gives people the high usually associated with the drug, he noted.

“THC can get you high, stoned, impaired. It means having a different state in our brain and cause you not to care too much about anything.”

CBD (cannabidiol) works as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory drug and also may lessen anxiety.

When the drug becomes legal on Oct. 17, 2018 adults may possess 30 grams of cannabis, but there is zero tolerance for youth possessing the drug.

Boahkye-Yiadom said Alberta Health Services is holding meetings throughout communities in central Alberta.

“We want to provide education around it,” he said. We want to prevent youth from using it.”

Adults may smoke or vape cannabis at home and in some public places, but not in vehicles, any cannabis retail outlets, anywhere smoking or vaping tobacco is already prohibited, or in areas where children frequent.

Four cannabis plants can be grown at home, but landlord and tenant agreements or condo bylaws can be used to set up rules for consumption and growing.

License suspensions and vehicle seizures that apply to alcohol-impaired driving have been extended to include cannabis impairment.

Those in attendance at the meeting were asked to speak out about the positive or negative effect cannabis has already had on their life.

One lady in attendance said it had affected her life negatively with a family member began smoking weed when he was young and later became addicted to drugs and alcohol.

However another lady said her grandson suffered from severe ADHD and finally began taking medical marijuana after he had taken a number of other drugs, which left him in a fog.

“It made a world of difference,” she said.

Karin Keessar, who has degenerative disc disease said cannabis has been very helpful.

“I’m in favour of it and I think people need to learn more about it,” she said. “It can help a lot of people.”

Anita O-Driscoll, senior planner with Lacombe County said municipalities could adjust some of the rules established by the federal government.

The location of cannabis retail outlets is to be 100 metres away from schools and provincial health care facilities.

However, this distance can either be increased or decreased within existing municipalities.

Cannabis retail outlets may be allowed as either permitted or discretionary use.

All regulations regarding cannabis retail outlets must be consistent with the other requirements of the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act.

Under provincial legislation a cannabis licensee may sell cannabis in the licensed premises from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m.

However a municipality may pass bylaws reducing the hours of sale, but these hours must apply to all licensed premises within that facility.

No smoking or vaping is to be allowed within the retail location.

Boakye-Yiadom said knowledge and education is important regarding cannabis.

“When we have knowledge we can become wise,” he said.

For more information about the system for legalized cannabis in Alberta, visit Alberta.ca/cannabis.

For more information about retail regulations, or how to apply for a cannabis retail licence, visit agic.ca/cannabis.

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