by Colin Smith
Cannabis has resulted in few issues in Morinville since its legalization by the Federal Government.
Sgt. William Norton, Manager, Enforcement Services presented an update on the situation to Town Council at its June 18 Committee of the Whole meeting.
Last year, shortly before the October 19 legalization date, Council decided not to go ahead with a cannabis control bylaw drafted by Administration. Instead, the Town would follow provincial regulations on cannabis use, with the matter to be reviewed within a year.
In his report to Council, Norton said that since that time cannabis has been a minimal concern for both Enforcement Services and the local RCMP detachment.
”Since the legalization, Enforcement Services has received one inquiry regarding cannabis,” he said. “The lone inquiry was regarding a company updating their policies and was confirming local restrictions.
According to Norton, the RCMP have opened fewer than 10 files involving cannabis in Morinville, with no tickets issued. While the RCMP does not track inquiry calls, there appears to be neither a substantial number of calls about cannabis nor a common theme with calls that requires analysis.
“There is no evidential correlation to higher crime in Morinville due to cannabis legalization,” he stated.
Norton added that Provincial cannabis control legislation appears to be working well in Morinville.
“All concerns appear to be addressed using that legislation or through the Criminal Code of Canada.,” he said. “There are no areas of concern from an enforcement perspective that could be addressed by additional local legislation.”
However, a number of unknowns remain, Norton pointed out. The effects of a cannabis growing season have yet to be seen and Morinville does not have a local commercial entity supplying the local market with the product.
“The comparable sample size is small, there has not been a full year where a strong comparison of pre-to-post legalization of cannabis has been observed. Enforcement Services is currently observing how summer activities are influenced by cannabis legalization.”
The report is welcome news, according to Mayor Barry Turner.
“Council was pleased with the update and encouraged that Protective Services has not seen any significant concerns or complaints regarding the consumption of cannabis in Morinville,” he said.
Turner noted that the community is receiving funding through a Provincial funding initiative to support municipalities with increased enforcement and other implementation costs related to cannabis legalization.
“This funding is intended to support keeping cannabis out of the hands of children, promoting safe roads, workplaces and public places, protecting public health and limiting the illegal market for cannabis,” he said.
As set out in a report to Council, the $50,130 already received and future funding is going toward increased patrols in areas sensitive to cannabis, creating a public education program for local schools, education, advertising and outreach in support of enforcement activities. Funds will be used to purchase patrol bikes and for training.
“Enforcement activities will continue to be tracked by both Protective Services and the RCMP and Council will receive further updates on results,” Turner said.