By Jeremy Appel
Redcliff town council discussed several cannabis regulations at its April 9 council meeting as the yet-to-be-determined summer deadline for legalization inches ever closer.
Coun. Larry Leipert says he wants to see the same regulations apply to cannabis as alcohol, while Coun. Jim Steinke opposed permitting cannabis sales in town at all.
Mayor Dwight Kilpatrick said forbidding marijuana retail in town won’t prevent its usage.
“It will be legal in Canada, it will be legal in Alberta and it will be legal in Redcliff whether we want it to come or not,” he said. “Just because we don’t have a shoe store in Redcliff, doesn’t mean there aren’t shoes.
“So keeping a cannabis store out of Redcliff doesn’t mean keeping cannabis out of Redcliff. As a matter of fact, it’s already here.”
Steinke said the town’s survey showed strong opposition to legalization in Redcliff.
“Why did we do the survey to begin with? We should have just not done the survey, went in here and steamrolled over them,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing. We should follow our survey.”
The survey, which closed March 30, had 467 respondents, representing 8.3 per cent of the town’s population.
Public consumption of cannabis was a major concern for the highest number of respondents, at 63.81 per cent.
Coun. Chris Czember put forward a motion to refer potential cannabis retailers to the Municipal Planning Commission to make their case to the public.
It was passed with support from all but Steinke.
Jordan Zukowski, the town’s planning specialist, said the motion included public notification requirements beyond what’s typically required of an MPC, which is usually only advertised at the town office.
These notifications could take the form of newspaper or web advertisements. “It provides that extra layer for the public to know that this application is out there and to give them the ability to comment,” she said.
Coun. Cathy Crozier said it’s important to inform the public about these developments before they come to town.
“If we don’t, we’re going to get backlash,” she said.
On the other hand, if the town makes it too burdensome for companies to open up shop, the public may be pleased, but it could open up legal challenges from retailers who want to get a slice of the Redcliff market, Kilpatrick added.
Crozier compared the general unease with marijuana legalization to the atmosphere immediately after alcohol prohibition.
“Liquor stores went through something similar to this,” she said. “It’s probably going to take a number of years before cannabis is as accepted in society as alcohol.”
Council also passed motions to add municipal parks, recreation centres and health facilities to the provincial 100-metre setback requirement, keep cannabis retail development fees consistent with those for other businesses, introduce a $100 fine for contravening the town’s smoking bylaw, which still needs to be written, and permit consumption at municipal campgrounds.