Calgary cannabis community gives government resounding thumbs up on draft pot rules

Members of Calgary's cannabis community are excited to see the proposed framework for Alberta's marijuana legislation, and they're giving it a resounding thumbs up despite many questions remaining unanswered.

Many questions remain surrounding cost, possession laws and enforcement, and steady supply streams

Jeff Mooij, the owner of 420 Clinic in Inglewood, has been asked by the Alberta government to be involved in further consultations starting Thursday. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

Members of Calgary's cannabis community are excited to see the proposed framework for Alberta's marijuana legislation, and they're giving it a resounding thumbs up despite many questions remaining unanswered. 

On Wednesday, the government released the draft rules, which reference a legal age limit of 18, as well as other details such as how much can be purchased at once — 30 grams — and where people will be permitted to smoke and vape. 

Jeff Mooij, owner of the 420 Clinic in Inglewood called the rules "the best framework for legalization" he had seen so far. 

"If it's about getting rid of the black market, the NDP and the province of Alberta just did a much better job than any other province," Mooij said.

Where will the weed come from?

Mooij has been involved in the consultation process to this point and the Alberta government has asked him to meet with representatives Thursday to hear more of his thoughts. 

While the government has left the possibility of government-run stores on the table in the framework, Mooij said he's confident they will opt for the private-run option. Mooij said it would be an economic boon for the city and province. 

He's also expressed interest is opening a chain of his stores to meet demand

But other questions remain aside from who will be in charge of selling the marijuana, namely supply. 

Steady supply a concern

Come July 1, marijuana demand is expected to skyrocket as recreational use becomes legal. That has some on the medicinal side of things concerned. 

Kait Shane, the spokesperson for Natural Health Services, which has offices in Calgary, Edmonton, Medicine Hat and Lethbridge, said while they are thrilled with most aspects of the proposed framework, steady supply is an area of key concern. 

"It's amazing how many times we have patients come in and say how much cannabis has changed their lives," Shane said.

"If that is yanked out from under them at this point, that does alarm us just a little bit. But we're really hoping that the powers that be will consider that when they're making whatever rules they're going to make around who gets what as far as distribution goes."

Key questions in need of an answer

Myles Leslie is an assistant professor with University of Calgary's School of Public Policy who focuses on health and social policy. He said he will be watching two issues most closely.

First off, the proposed rules for limits on possession in public — set at 30 grams in the framework. Leslie said it makes little sense to quantify the legality of marijuana. 

"I don't understand how that's enforceable," he said.

"You can have 12 bottles of wine, as long as they're not uncorked in a public place, you could have 500 of them because it's a legal substance."

The second issue for him as well, is supply. He said Shane has good reason to be concerned regarding supply distribution to medical dispensaries because rules haven't been set out that would prioritize who will have orders filled by the federally monitored supply chain. And there certainly won't be enough to go around at first.

"I don't know if the growers are going to be able to ramp up to demand and keep pricing where [the government] needs it to be, so that the black market can't continue to undercut," Leslie said.