Fort McMurray — Consuming or producing cannabis publicly in Wood Buffalo will not be allowed after the municipal council unanimously passed three bylaws regarding marijuana regulation at a special council meeting Monday.
Council also passed bylaws keeping cannabis retailers in urban areas at least 150 metres away from schools and provincial health-care facilities, child care centres and rehabilitation centres.
In rural areas, this barrier would be at a minimum of 100 metres.
Production facilities in urban and rural areas must stay 300 metres from the same sites, as well as residential areas.
Any odour complaints must be dealt with within 48 hours.
There are no separation requirements between liquor stores and stores selling cannabis.
Development officers will have discretionary authority on separation up to 10 per cent.
Coun. Mike Allen asked what would happen if a school or daycare opened up within 150 metres from an established cannabis retailer.
Administration said if the building operators are aware of the cannabis retailer but still want to operate nearby, that is acceptable.
Residents will also be able to grow up to four plants on their private property, which is the limit the federal government has put in place.
Residents will not be allowed to grow them on balconies or communal areas in apartment or condominium complexes.
“People can consume in their private residence and that’s important,” said Mayor Don Scott.
The proposed cannabis bylaws were created after the municipality surveyed more than 2,700 residents and had more than 1,000 direct interactions with residents.
“The residents really spoke and the rules that have been developed really reflect what we’ve heard and that’s how it should be,” said Scott.
The Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission has received approximately 12 applicants for retail stores within the municipality.
The Fort McMurray First Nation 468 has also indicated it is interested in opening a cannabis production site.
An administrative report for council says the municipality averages two to three inquiries a day regarding retail stores.
“We talked about the economic opportunities, we made sure that we’re protecting young people as much as possible and that’s something that was very important to me,” said Scott.
Les Hagen, executive director of the Action on Smoking and Health, said this new bylaw is very encouraging.
“It will be one of the most progressive bylaws in Canada,” he said. “When youth witness smoking in public, they’re more likely to perceive it as acceptable.”
Cannabis is expected to be legal across Canada on Oct. 17.
The minimum age to purchase or consume cannabis is 18 and those of legal age can possess up to 30 grams in public