Council puts brakes on Cannabis Consumption Bylaw for now

Discussion and debate on a cannabis bylaw is in the video above at the 10:30 mark.

by Colin Smith

Morinville will not be getting a cannabis bylaw, at least not in the immediate future.
At its October 9 regular morning Town Council considered the Cannabis Control Bylaw it had asked the Administration to draft in advance of the October 17 legalization of the substance by the federal government.

However rather than being given first reading by Council, a motion by Councillor Stephen Dafoe resulted in the bylaw being received as information.

The motion also called for Morinville to accept provincial regulations as they are
An amendment to the motion proposed by Councillor Sarah Hall will see the bylaw revisited in a year, or sooner if required.

Dafoe argued that a bylaw was unnecessary because the regulations to control cannabis adopted by the province, in addition to federal rules, are sufficient.

“We have a product that will be legal on October 17, eight days from now,” Dafoe said. “People want to be able to consume a legal product legally. I feel the provincial requirements meet the need to put some restrictions on it.”

Provincial legislation limits cannabis use to Albertans over 18. It cannot be consumed in a vehicle, and there are a variety of restrictions on where it can be consumed: it’s not allowed anywhere were tobacco is banned, or at hospitals, schools or childcare facilities.
Outdoors cannabis use will have to take place five metres away from shared airspaces such as doorways, patios, parks, recreational facilities and civic workplaces, or in designated areas at events.

Morinville’s bylaw would have had the distance to shared airspaces to 10 metres, specifically required users not to blow smoke into neighbouring residences, something already covered in the Town’s existing bylaws, and banned the growing of cannabis plants in front yards.

Contravention of the bylaw could have resulted a voluntary payment tag or violation ticket from a peace officer, and be liable for a fine of $250, or if guilty on summary conviction to a fine of up to $10,000, a year in prison, or both.

The proposed bylaw is considered middle of the road in the extent of its restriction of cannabis beyond federal and provincial legislation, between the complete prohibition of public cannabis consumption enacted in St. Albert and the lack of further regulation in other municipalities.

The motion to adopt the bylaw as information was passed four to three, with Councillors Rebecca Balanko, Sarah Hall and Scott Richardson, voting in favour along with Dafoe. It was opposed by Mayor Barry Turner and Councillors Nicole Boutestein and Lawrence Giffin.
Before the vote, Turner said that giving the bylaw first reading would allow for organization of a public hearing on cannabis regulation.

“I think one thing we should do is let our residents come and let us know how they feel,” he said.

Giffin said that many people feel they haven’t been heard on the matter, and Boutestein said the clarity of the bylaw would provide residents with a sense of security in relation to the law.

Council was also informed that Morinville Enforcement Services is asking the Alberta Solicitor General’s Office to give its community peace officers the authority to enforce the cannabis sections of the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act of Alberta.

Community peace officer Will Norton outlined a number of benefits to that increased authority in information provided to David Schaefer, Morinville’s Director of Community and Protective Services.

Norton stated community peace officers would be able to use provincial legislation to deal with offences such as using or transporting cannabis in vehicles, and minors possessing cannabis.

Peace officers will also be able to immediately forfeit abandoned or lost cannabis to the Crown, instead of having to store it for 30 days as the Municipal Government Act requires for lost or abandoned property.


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  1. I have a procedural question, followed by some logical questions.

    Mayor Turner mentioned he wanted the bylaw to receive first reading so that public feedback could be gathered via a public hearing. Councillor Griffin also referenced public feedback and residents feeling they haven’t been heard on the matter.

    Is the only tool available for council to receive information from the public a public hearing as part of a bylaw? In the event that our Councillors (or at least some of them) are unable to speak to residents on their own initiative, whats stopping council from in fact hosting a public forum on cannabis to receive public feedback?

    From a logical perspective; If Council (or at least some of council) is so convinced the population has not had opportunity to express their opinions or concerns, then how does the Council know that the majority of the community wants a new bylaw that effectively duplicates existing legislation in the first place?

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