Pubdate: Thu, 05 Oct 2017
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network
Author: Reid Southwick
Page: A4


Government proposes permitting pot in provincial parks and on street

Next July, you'll be allowed to get high standing on a downtown street
corner, walking your dog through Nose Hill Park or hiking in the Rocky

In its draft framework for legalized weed, the Alberta government has
proposed among the most permissive rules so far in Canada on where pot
can be smoked.

They're even more lax than rules in Colorado and other legalized
jurisdictions south of the border, according to a researcher who has
studied the industry.

Shayan Jones, a Calgary mother, believes the province should treat
cannabis use the same way it does alcohol, and worries Alberta's
"free-for-all" will set the wrong example for her 12-year-old daughter.

"If she's by herself and she's walking home from school, and there's
these 18, 19-year-olds walking down the street and they're all high as
a kite, what do I need to tell her to be aware of?" Jones said.

"For my child to be in the vicinity of someone who has smoked it, or a
bunch of them, I don't want that for my child. I don't want to have to
protect her from that, amongst every other thing that a parent has to
protect their child from."

When recreational cannabis is legalized July 1, smoking or vaping the
drug will be banned anywhere in Alberta where tobacco use is already
prohibited. Toking will also be barred in cars, around hospitals, on
school grounds and close to areas frequented by children, such as
playgrounds, daycares, sports fields, public pools and zoos.

But Albertans will be free to spark up a joint anywhere else, from
sidewalks to provincial parks.

Stuart Mair, a 32-year-old Calgarian, is an occasional pot smoker but
far from an enthusiast. He gets that public toking will bother people,
just like cigarette smoke bugs him, but he said naysayers will have to
suck it up.

"With it being legal, it's no different than me choosing to cook meat
next to my vegetarian neighbours who don't like the smell of it," Mair

The Alberta rules are far more tolerant of public consumption than
Ontario's decision to limit toking to private homes.

New Brunswick bans toking in the same areas it prohibits tobacco use,
while a report prepared for that government said banning pot
consumption in all public places "would be difficult to enforce when
edible cannabis products are legalized in future."

Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said the government's
policies are designed to keep cannabis out of the hands of children,
but she noted that public opinions on consuming cannabis outside
private homes are polarized.

Ganley said the draft policies are meant in part to be fair to renters
and condo-dwellers.

"To prohibit public consumption, particularly in light of nosmoking
rules in apartment buildings and in condos, would essentially prohibit
use by a huge portion of the population," she said.

In U.S. states that have legalized pot, public consumption is largely
banned with some exceptions, such as Colorado's "bud-and-breakfast"
inns that cater to tourists who don't have the option of smoking at
home, said Paul Seaborn, a University of Denver professor who has
studied the industry.

Colorado's state legislature recently attempted to clarify where
cannabis can be publicly consumed, but got bogged down by
disagreements, such as the number of people who could smoke in a
backyard in view of neighbours, Seaborn said.

The state's restrictions on public consumption likely help explain why
sales of edible pot products such as brownies - which won't be
available for sale in Canada until 2019 - have exploded in Colorado,
given that they can be consumed more discreetly, the professor said.

Still, the state and others like it have been just fine without
permissive rules allowing for pot smoking on street corners, he said.

"We've sold $1.3 billion worth of product in this state without public
consumption (rules)," he said. "The sense of urgency over public
consumption is not quite there. The system is working."

Les Hagen, an anti-smoking advocate, wonders why the Alberta
government has proposed to ban cannabis use in more places than it
restricts smoking or vaping tobacco, which he says kills far more people.

"We need to see the restrictions on cannabis extended to tobacco,"
Hagen said.

"Otherwise, the government is saying to kids that cannabis is harmful
and tobacco isn't."
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MAP posted-by: Matt