Pubdate: Wed, 04 Apr 2012
Source: St. Albert Gazette (CN AB)
Copyright: 2012 Great West Newspapers
Author: Peter Boer
Bookmark: (Paraphernalia)


Amendments Could Ensnare Legitimate Businesses, Councillor

Shops associated with drug paraphernalia in St. Albert will now have 
to frost their windows and abide by a list of restricted items if 
they want to hang onto their business licences.

Third reading of amendments to the business license bylaw and the 
tobacco retail licensing bylaw passed unanimously Monday. This vote 
came after Coun. Cathy Heron declined to give unanimous consent to 
all three readings at council's March 19 meeting.

The amendments to the business licence bylaw include prohibiting any 
one business from selling products from three or more categories of 
restricted items, restricting the sale of such products to minors and 
requiring restricted products to be obscured from outside view. 
Licensed pharmacies are exempt under the bylaw.

The restricted categories include: any product that displays a 
marijuana plant, a device intended to facilitate smoking activity, 
grinders, digital weigh scales, and detoxifying products for masking 
drug effects or enabling users to defeat drug tests.

Other business licence amendments include giving the licence 
inspector the ability to add new conditions to new or existing 
business licences and the power to revoke or deny a licence when it 
is in "the public interest to do so." Violators will be faced with a 
$1,500 penalty.

"In no way did I want it to come across that I was in support of the 
drug culture," Heron said Monday.

"I still feel this is quite restrictive but we are where we are."

Heron used the example of retail giant Bed Bath & Beyond as an 
example of a store that might be denied a business licence based on 
the products it carries: scales, grinders and products like hemp sheets.

"A shop like that would not be allowed in St. Albert," Heron pointed out.

Aaron Giesbrecht, manager of policing services, conceded that, 
because Bed Bath & Beyond stores don't have pharmacies, they might 
unintentionally run afoul of the new legislation.

"We tried to work around that with anything that was a pharmacy but 
your example was not contemplated," Giesbrecht said.

The amendment to the tobacco retail licensing bylaw adds certain 
smoking devices to the definition of "tobacco products." It also 
requires that any business selling anything like a wooden or blown 
glass pipe will now also have to purchase a tobacco licence.

"But most businesses selling pipes will probably have a tobacco 
licence already," Giesbrecht explained.

Council has taken a hard stance against so-called "bong shops" in the 
community over the last six months. The former owner of Blitz 420, 
who wanted to open a bong shop in Akinsdale, openly accused the mayor 
of interfering with his business. Late last year, the owner of the 
retail chain The Chad 420 Smoke Shop appeared before council to 
explain his business practices, but was instead presented with an 
outstanding warrant for his arrest on drug trafficking charges.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom