Lacombe preparing for legal marijuana

Lacombe sets up committee to look at implications of new marijuana laws on community

City of Lacombe is preparing — as best as anyone can — for the brave new world of legalized marijuana.

The Cannabis Readiness Committee is being set up to consider the implications of legalized recreational cannabis on everything from land use and community standards to employee human resources policies.

“We haven’t seen, actually, a lot of people taking action to address this proactively, so we wanted to be ahead of the curve when it is legalized here in the summer,” said acting chief administrative officer Matthew Goudy on Tuesday.

The federal government tabled two bills in April 2017 to legalize and regulate. Both pieces of legislation are expected to be enacted in July. The provincial government passed legislation last November to oversee marijuana and establish provincial offences for youth possession and public consumption among others. As well, impaired driving offences were updated to include marijuana.

“We’re taking a multi-faceted approach to what the impact on our community is going to be and how we’re going to ensure the legalization has a positive effect here in Lacombe,” Goudy said.

“We know that there are far-reaching impacts from this in all areas of our community,” said Goudy.

For instance, on the community standards front, the committee will consider how public consumption, sale and cultivation of marijuana will be approached and how to limit negative impacts on the community.

“We want to make sure that we’re having sales and consumption and sort of industrial manufacturing or refinement being done in the most appropriate land use available.”

Legalization also has implications for staff policies. Will marijuana be treated similar to alcohol use?

Lacombe’s committee will include the police chief, two city councillors and several senior managers, including the chief administrative officer. The city’s human resources department and bylaw enforcement team will also assist.

Despite all the preparation, Goudy has no illusions that all angles will be covered.

“There are going to be so many unforeseen impacts. We’re still going to have trouble dealing with it for the first year.”

The committee, which is expected to be officially green-lighted on Monday, is expected to come back with its Cannabis Readiness and Implementation Monitoring Plan in May. Necessary bylaw changes are expected to be done in June or July.

After a year, the committee will report back on how it went and whether further changes are needed.

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