Pubdate: Mon, 12 Feb 2018
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2018 Postmedia Network
Author: Sammy Hudes
Page: A3


Only 32 per cent of respondents favour restrictions like those on

It's not like tobacco and those who want to treat it like tobacco are
probably the ones who want to smoke it anywhere.

More than half of Calgarians believe the way public consumption of
cannabis is regulated and enforced should more closely resemble
controls on drinking alcohol than those on smoking tobacco.

That's according to the city's Cannabis Research Combined Study,
prepared by Environics Research and released Friday.

The study aimed to gauge Calgarians' views on potential regulations
and restrictions surrounding the consumption and sale of marijuana
products, in addition to home growth of plants, once the federal
government legalizes cannabis later this year. Its findings are based
on telephone surveys in November of more than 1,000 Calgarians 18 or
older, along with five focus groups - including opponents of
legalization and both recreational and medical users - in addition to
30 in-depth interviews last month of Calgarians who plan to be
involved in cannabis production or retail.

About 55 per cent of those who took part in the study indicated the
regulation of marijuana consumption should be treated like alcohol
rather than tobacco, which would prevent it from being consumed in
public spaces. About 32 per cent felt it should be treated more like

Coun. Shane Keating said he agreed with the majority view on that

"It's not like tobacco and those who want to treat it like tobacco are
probably the ones who want to smoke it anywhere," Keating said. "It's
not a cigarette, it's a drug and therefore it has to be treated as a
drug. That means no participating in them in public in any way, shape
or form."

Keating added the odour of pot differentiates it from an ordinary
cigarette and should be kept away from public spaces so others
wouldn't have to deal with the "rather bad smell."

Nearly 80 per cent of those who took part in the study indicated a
private backyard was an acceptable place to smoke pot and close to
three-quarters said the same for a front porch. Just 45 per cent
agreed an outdoor concert would be acceptable, while one-fifth were in
favour of allowing marijuana to be used on restaurant patios.

"If we're going to be fair and find a happy medium, there has to be
some way in which it's structured so that it's able to be used in
public, but it has to be used in the exact same essence as alcohol:
only in certain places," Keating said. "There's places you could
probably go, the same as we have a lounge where you could go and have
a drink. This one would have to be automatically set up as for
marijuana use."

The study 's findings divided Calgarians into four camps in their
views on cannabis. Close to half (48 per cent) are "tolerant" of the
upcoming legalization, and favour moderate retail and consumption
restrictions. About 13 per cent are "cannabis champions": they
regularly smoke pot, have a high rate of support for legalization and
want minimal restrictions.

About 22 per cent of Calgarians have an "out of sight, out of mind"
viewpoint. Few of them use marijuana, most oppose its legalization and
want major restrictions. The remaining group is classified as
"anti-cannabis absolutists": none are users, they strongly oppose the
drug 's inevitable legalization, and they want major restrictions when
it does take effect.

One in four Calgarians will be users or potential users once cannabis
is legal, according to the study.

Coun. George Chahal said it will be up to him and his council
colleagues to find the right balance in implementing the right bylaws,
but it's better to be safe than sorry.

"This is something new we're rolling out and I'd rather be a little
bit more cautious," Chahal said. "We can always loosen the rules up,
but it's harder to tighten them up."

He wants licensed cannabis stores to maintain a distance from schools
that is greater than that of liquor stores. Under Calgary bylaws,
liquor stores can't be within 150 metres of a school. They must also
be at least 300 metres from other liquor stores.

The study found the majority of Calgarians (59 per cent) want cannabis
retailers to have the same operating hours as liquor stores, but that
a minimum-distance bylaw should come into effect in relation to
schools (81 per cent support), vulnerable populations (76 per cent)
and other cannabis retailers (61 per cent). About 47 per cent also
want cannabis retailers to keep their distance from liquor stores.

"In this case, I don't think you can please everyone," said Coun. Sean
Chu, who wants the city to look at U.S. jurisdictions where marijuana
has been legalized to see what regulations were set up in response.

"The city's very reactive, too, because this is the doing of the
federal government and the city just has to react to it. The truth is
that nobody 's ready. The city 's not ready, the province is not ready."

Chu, a former police officer, said he thinks the federal and
provincial governments should also provide further funding to local
police to help enforce impaired-driving laws, as he anticipates there
being more high drivers on the road.

The study's margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 per cent at the 95
per cent confidence level.
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