Ponoka council approved its cannabis public consumption bylaw along with the town’s retail sales of cannabis land use bylaw on Oct. 9 during a regular meeting. With the Oct. 17 legalization of recreational marijuana the town is now ready with its legislative framework.                                Black Press file photo

Ponoka council approved its cannabis public consumption bylaw along with the town’s retail sales of cannabis land use bylaw on Oct. 9 during a regular meeting. With the Oct. 17 legalization of recreational marijuana the town is now ready with its legislative framework. Black Press file photo

Ponoka council approved a cannabis retail sales bylaw

Along with retail sales, the cannabis consumption bylaw was approved

The sale of cannabis is now allowed in the Town of Ponoka, as long as certain rules are followed.

Council approved amendments to its proposed land use bylaw during a regular meeting Oct. 9 outlining where cannabis sales are allowed. The only issue that was heard by council was concern about parking restrictions.

Initially the proposal was that, “Onsite parking shall be provided at a rate of four parking stalls per 100 m2 (1,076 ft2) of floor area.”

However, existing requirements for businesses are a rate of one parking stall. That issue was pointed out by resident Ken Robinson who is in the works to set up a retail cannabis shop. During the public hearing, he pointed out that the four-stall restriction was too high.

“It precludes any business in the downtown area from applying,” he explained.

The bylaw was approved with council accepting the amendment to one parking stall. Along with the land use bylaw approval was the approval of an interim public consumption bylaw, which currently restricts the smoking of cannabis in public places.

Administration did provide guidelines for the smoking of medical marijuana, which would require a person to supply an approved medical document. Details on the document must include information related to the individual, plus information from the practitioner.

Coun. Teri Underhill was concerned about enforcement.

“The police use the municipal bylaw as another tool,” replied CAO Albert Flootman.

When asked about restricting the use altogether, Flootman says the town’s solicitor suggests that could be challenged considering the fact that it’s federally governed and could be seen as a charter right.

Coun. Kevin Ferguson added that medicinal marijuana has been legal since 2001 and he hasn’t heard any issues with folks who use cannabis for medical reasons.

The issue for Coun. Ted Dillon related to smoking medical marijuana in public is that people can’t drink liquor in a public place.

The town is seeking input from residents for the month of October (through the website or at Town Hall) on the public consumption of cannabis while the interim bylaw is in place.

Later in the week a special community standards open house was held to hear from residents. Ponoka News spoke with Robinson on his thoughts of what the legalization of recreation cannabis means.

He’s also in the process of getting a retail licence from the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (AGLC) to sell cannabis. The process is rather lengthy and applicants are under strict rules that they cannot sell medical marijuana.

As for the legalization of cannabis uses, from the perspective of a citizen and not a potential retailer, Robinson says it’s about time.

“The fact that people have been facing criminal charges for something that’s been around as long as it has been, seems ludicrous,” said Robinson, adding that in a year he feels people won’t think twice about it.

He does advocate taking cannabis responsibly. “Certainly not in certain public places and playgrounds where children can be exposed to it.”

“Honestly, after a few days of the initial celebratory aspects of the legislation on Oct. 17, I don’t think it’s going to be much of a problem.”

As for having cannabis stores in the community, Robinson takes a realistic perspective. “It’s a business that the town is making money off of. We’re buying permits. We’re paying taxes for stores.”

He suggests market demand will dictate how many stores end up being in the community.

“That will depend on the quality of the service more than anything because we’re all buying from the same wholesaler, the government,” Robinson said.



jeff.heyden-kaye@ponokanews.com

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