Alberta Newspaper Group
Forty Mile County is close to passing a bylaw to regulate the use of legalized cannabis, and while there are still questions regarding specific language, the finished product will likely involve a public-use ban.
Enforceable regulations will have to wait until the new year, but the goal is to mirror neighbouring regions and communities, which in southeast Alberta seem to be favouring rules more strict than what the province has laid out.
“We were a little more conservative trying to stay as consistent as we could with, say, Bow Island and some of the other communities closer by to us,” says Reeve Steve Wikkerink. “I think we are fairly close to Bow Island in the sense that, basically, at home in your privacy, if you want to (use cannabis), that’s your business.
“But in public it’s off limits.”
Wikkerink says sticking close to what others are doing is simply a good-neighbour policy to ensure regional consistency. That not only helps citizens travelling through not having to figure out new laws wherever they go, but also law enforcement not needing to deal with ignorance toward local rules.
“Whenever we can keep things consistent with other communities, I think it just makes it easier for everyone.”
A public-use ban is also likely to include parks and campgrounds, much like what Bow Island has gone with. Campers are free to use cannabis while inside their own trailer or RV, but smoking it outside within campgrounds is going to be prohibited.
“Basically, anywhere the public could get to, where children could get to … we’ve said, ‘No.’”
The bylaw might be that much closer had the chief administrative officer not been away last council meeting and able to answer questions about its language. Wikkerink says council inquired about the wording in one section of the proposed legislation but anticipates answers to be made clear before the next meeting.
“We’ve looked at it twice and I think we’re getting very close to what we’re going to be happy with, and hopefully we will be able to pass our first reading on (Dec. 21),” he says. “Then I presume we will have an open house sometime in January, and then we will get it in place.”
Whatever the bylaw looks like when finalized in the next couple months, it could always be altered in the future. Wikkerink says, as with anything passed by council, if time dictates a need to be more conservative, or perhaps more lenient, then that can and would be addressed as needed.
In the meantime, they will pass something soon and play a watchful waiting game. And while officials will be happy to have local regulations in place that match the community’s wants and interests, Wikkerink says to his knowledge there have been no issues or complaints since the Oct. 17 legalization.
“We have not heard about anything locally, haven’t heard anything from Bow Island,” he said. “We heard about one little issue out of Lethbridge but as far as anything around here, there’s been nothing.”