Pubdate: Mon, 18 Dec 2017
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Clare Clancy
Page: A1


Expect the unexpected.

That sage advice from Dan Rowland, director of public affairs for
Denver, Col., comes after more than five years of experience dealing
with the legalization of cannabis and its ripple effects.

"I think it's imperative that governments, whether it's the provincial
level or the local level, set themselves up to be nimble and
flexible," he said. "There's a ton of education that needs to happen.

"Even for savvy consumers, there's going to be a regulated marketplace
for this, so they need to know what that means, as well."

Kim Capstick, executive director of engagement and outreach for the
Alberta Cannabis Secretariat, is in many ways Rowland's counterpart
for the Alberta government. She has been in the job for 10 months.

"We didn't invent cannabis. Cannabis is here today, and people are
using it today, both legally and illegally," she said this week,
adding that legalization allows for public education that isn't
centred on abstinence. "It's about arming people with facts."

In 2017, the government collected 60,000 online, telephone and
inperson surveys from Albertans to help inform the provincial
framework, she said.

"People can have conversations with their kids ... and colleagues ...
that they probably couldn't have a year ago." The secretariat has
consulted with authorities further along in the legalization process,
including the states of Washington and Colorado, she said.

Washington became the first U.S. state to legalize the recreational
use of cannabis in 2012. Colorado followed shortly after. Legalization
is slated to happen across Canada on July 1.

In November, the Alberta government rolled out the first retail rules.
Finance Minister Joe Ceci said more details will be announced in the
new year. And Transportation Minister Brian Mason introduced
legislation in November to amend traffic laws in preparation for

But there are still unanswered questions about what legalization will
look like.

Rowland noted the challenges of educating the public.

"There were quite literally people who didn't even know if it was
illegal to drive high at the beginning," he said, adding that
responsible use and safe storage are key components of the Denver
education strategy.

Almost every jurisdiction said in hindsight that public education
should have started sooner, Capstick added.

Rowland said individuals need to learn to test their own limits,

"Many of us are savvy alcohol consumers, we've all tested our limits
and we all know a glass of wine is a beer is a shot," he said.

"We understand what those mean for us. People don't know that for
marijuana yet."
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