City of Calgary looks at bylaw to ban public consumption of cannabis
“We’re called the Texas of the North and for good reason,” says Keith Fagin.
City administrators in Calgary are recommending councillors adopt a ban on public consumption of cannabis when pot becomes legal later this year.
A report that is to be debated this week says a new bylaw should restrict all forms of cannabis consumption in public places, or in areas where the public has consent to enter.
“For many it can have relaxing, positive effects, but it can also alter one’s state of consciousness and induce anxiety and panic attacks.”
“It’s just not something that’s going to be a public safety issue whatsoever,” he says.
The city report says the recommendation follows public consultation, including telephone surveys which found a majority of Calgarians would prefer cannabis consumption rules to mirror those for drinking alcohol in public places.
Fagin says he’s not surprised.
“We’re called the Texas of the North and for good reason. We’re super-strongly conservative here and … we’re more hard-nosed and hard-headed about things like that.”
Lawyer and marijuana advocate Kirk Tousaw says the proposed exemption for medical consumption is key to whether a public ban would be legal. But he disputes that rules for cannabis consumption need to be the same as those for booze.
“What you’re not going to see with public cannabis consumption are some of the real public nuisances that you see with public alcohol consumption, which is people passed out, people vomiting on the streets, people urinating on the streets because they’ve lost any inhibitions and are too hammered to care,” said Tousaw, speaking from Duncan, B.C.
Earlier this month, the Montreal suburb of Hampstead adopted a bylaw that bans all smoking in public places. It prohibits tobacco and marijuana on municipal property, including sidewalks and streets.
The bylaw does not prohibit electronic cigarettes
Fagin says if condo and apartment buildings also ban smoking and vaping cannabis, that could mean users wouldn’t be able to step outside for a puff. Edibles would be an option when they become legal later, he suggests, but they take time to work and have different effects.
The odour from vaping cannabis is much less noticeable than cigarette smoke, says Fagin, who feels users and non-users should still be able to get along.