The impact of legalized marijuana on young people has been a recurring theme among those who have responded to Lacombe County’s public consultation efforts.
The county teamed up with Alberta Health Services to get a read on how the public wants to see cannabis regulated at a pair of public meetings last week in Bentley and Mirror.
County senior planner Anita O’Driscoll said a dozen people turned out in Mirror and double that in Bentley. About 70 have also shared their thoughts through an online survey on the county’s website at www.lacombecounty.com and on the county’s Facebook page. The survey remains open until the end of July.
O’Driscoll said while some are opposed to the government’s move to legalize cannabis there has not been a lot of strong concern voiced.
“I think the big thing everybody is concerned about is the youth, in terms of retail and in terms of consumption,” she said.
Some voiced fears that legalization, and the inevitable increased profile of marijuana in communities, will entice young people to experiment. How legalization and the message of using cannabis responsibly will coexist is also a question mark for some.
O’Driscoll said municipalities have only limited roles in regulating cannabis.
“There is a lot of regulation that has been taken care of provincially and federally,” she said.
Where municipalities have jurisdiction is in determining where they consider marijuana retail or production operations an appropriate land use. As well, municipalities can regulate where cannabis can be consumed publicly.
A number of Central Alberta municipalities are looking at treating cannabis similar to alcohol and prohibiting consumption in public places.
Some county residents have also proposed similar rules that would make some areas off limits to any consumption.
The county is expected to regulate cannabis through its Land Use and its Community Standards Bylaws.
Once the online survey has closed, staff will sift through all of the public responses and take recommendations to council, likely in September. A public hearing will be held before council votes on any changes.