Fort McMurrray to consider restricting marijuana use near schools and places of worship
‘I don’t want to have our kids at a bus stop and smoke being ingested by our youth,’ says councillor
One Fort McMurray councillor wants to tighten the municipality's control over where marijuana can be consumed and sold, once the drug is legalized next year.
Coun. Sheldon Germain will introduce a motion on July 11 that could instruct staff to draft new parameters that could restrict the sale and consumption of cannabis near community centres, public events, places of worship and schools.
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"Quite frankly, I don't want to have our kids riding in a school bus or at a bus stop and smoke being ingested by our youth." said Germain, who also works as a school vice-principal.
"I just want to make sure our community is ready and has the right bylaws."
In April, the federal government laid out its plan for the permitted use and sale of marijuana.
The plan states that vendors cannot sell marijuana to people under the age of 18, while provinces and territories can set a higher minimum age if they choose.
Provinces and territories will also determine how pot is distributed and how much it will cost.
'Let's do it in our public spaces'
Germain said his motion would allow the municipality to research and review its options for controlling marijuana through land use and clean-air bylaws.
"I think it's important for us as a municipality to ensure that we have the right bylaws that help support and make sure that legalization is done in a correct way," he said.
He wants to ensure residents can have a say in where marijuana dispensaries are located.
One such place that could see marijuana restrictions is Fort McMurray's Jubilee Plaza, the city's main downtown square.
"I think there should be restrictions," Hayley Goodwin said. "Just the same as [tobacco] smoking areas, there should be designated [marijuana] smoking areas."
Amy Thornhill said there's already too many unhealthy taboos about marijuana, and using city bylaws to regulate it further will only add to that.
She said bringing marijuana use out in the open as opposed to hiding it allows health authorities to monitor it more effectively.
"Let's do it in our public spaces," Thornhill said. "Let's have our community members out in the open in places that have a police presence and have another set of eyes."
Zero tolerance at the work site
This is not the first call for more regulation of marijuana use in and around Fort McMurray.
In April, Calgary-based work safety group Enform called for a "prohibition on the use, storage and sale of marijuana from the workplace or close proximity" to oil and gas facilities.
The group said research demonstrates marijuana can impair a user's judgment for as many as 20 days and that the drug is incompatible with the strict safety requirements of oil and gas sites.