Cannabis queries? Edmonton conference has answers

Upcoming cannabis legalization has left Edmontonians with many questions about how it will affect them. Panellists at a cannabis convention at the Shaw Conference Centre hope to answer some of those questions.

Event at Shaw Conference Centre goes until Saturday

Edmonton's CannabisCon will explore some of the questions the public has ahead of cannabis legalization. (Kim Brunhuber/CBC, Cannabis Con/Facebook)

Upcoming cannabis legalization has left Edmontonians with many questions about how it will affect them. Panellists at a cannabis convention this weekend hope to answer some of those questions.

CannabisCon kicked off Friday at the Shaw Conference Centre with speakers from various levels of government and key industry players as legalization nears. The event continues Saturday.

"With the pending legislation, there's all this interest in cannabis — what's going to happen both on the medical and recreation side," conference organizer Howard Silver told CBC's Radio Active.

"This conference was put together to answer a lot of questions."

Deron Bilous, Alberta's economic development and trade minister and Colton Kirsop, a senior planner at the City of Edmonton, highlight a speaker list aimed at answering questions the public may have.

Representatives from other governing bodies and cannabis companies round out the panellist list.

Silver hopes to provide more information on some of the public's most burning questions — such as cannabis and the workplace and where people will be permitted to smoke.

"There are a lot of rumours out there but very little content with what's actually going to happen," he said. "Everyone's interested in the retail distribution."

Women in cannabis

Stephanie Ostrander from Cannabis at Work in Edmonton is on some panels, including one about women professionals in the industry.

"A lot of the heads of these companies — CEOs and CFOs — have come from the mining industry, the pharmaceutical industry," Ostrander said Thursday. "Those have been industries that have been traditionally quite male-dominated.

"I think that we will see a change in all of that."

Ostrander said there are many careers in the industry that are under the radar, including marketing and communications jobs, horticulture jobs and quality assurance jobs, which require different types of expertise.

Ostrander will also speak about cannabis and how workplaces will deal with it. She said there's a myth that cannabis legalization will spark chaos in the workplace, with everyone working while impaired.

"Responsible adults are not going to go to work impaired," Ostrander said. "There will always be people that are irresponsible, whether it's with alcohol or other drugs, and I don't think that chaos is going to happen."

Edmonton's cannabis business will be booming once it's leagalized. The panellists at CannabisCon hope to answer questions ahead of time. (CBC)

Silver said there are also concerns on the employee's side — in that some people who use cannabis. but not at work, still may be accused of being impaired at work.

The conference, Silver said, is a great way to get some insight from employers and legislators on these issues. It's also a chance for companies to learn, too.

"This is a great opportunity for companies to reach out," Ostrander said.