Pubdate: Mon, 26 Dec 2016
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network
Author: Bill Kaufmann
Page: A7


After two days of legal marijuana immersion therapy, Alberta's justice
minister admits more questions than answers remain on how the province
rolls out pot reforms.

But a federal task force's recently unveiled recommendations - calling
for cannabis sales outside liquor stores, mail order retail and a
minimum age of 18 - have cleared some of the smoke. While an October
trip to Denver - the epicentre of Colorado's cannabis legalization -
was useful, what Alberta's post-prohibition landscape looks like
remains dependent on Ottawa's still hazy blueprint, says Kathleen Ganley.

What's clear, she says, is that the deepest anxieties centre on the
welfare of the province's youngest citizens - and motorists - as the
feds prepare to table legislation in the spring.

"Our biggest concerns are to ensure the safety of our roads and
children," said Ganley, calling Colorado's experience a mixed bag.
"Things certainly didn't descend into disorder or solve all the
world's problems."

Because no cannabis equivalent exists to the roadside breathalyzer
that measures alcohol impairment, it appears police will have to rely
on their own skills of observation in weeding out stoned drivers, she

Police in Colorado insist they've been reasonably successful at doing
just that, with the number of motorists charged with pot impairment in
that state doubling since its Jan. 1, 2014, cannabis legalization,
says Ganley.

"That's still a very small number compared to those charged with
alcohol impairment," she says.

But many experts say symptoms of cannabis impairment differ from its
alcohol counterpart and can be more subtle. And Ganley admits drivers
high on pot can only be charged with impairment, rather than for being
over a set blood-content limit.

As to where legal pot is sold - whether it's done in liquor stores or
other retail outlets - that determination still needs to occur, says

And it's still not clear what cannabis sales will mean to the
province's coffers, she added.

But while Colorado's pot tax take has exceeded expectations - pulling
in about $135 million in 2015 - Alberta's not expecting a huge
windfall, she says.

The recent task force recommendations are music to the ears of
Canada's legal marijuana producers, said Cam Battley, spokesman for
Aurora Cannabis Inc., which operates a growing facility northwest of

"What the federal government has done here is sound public policy -
this is an area of Canadian world leadership," said Battley, also a
board member of the industry group Cannabis Canada.

"The eyes of the world are upon (Canada) ... we have to get this right
the first time."

He said if adopted, those federal guidelines will only help the growth
of his industry and company, the latter of which is also building a
grow centre in Leduc County that will be operational next fall. The
Leduc-area Aurora Sky will employ 200 people, alongside the 80 jobs
created by its Cremona grow operation, he added.
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