Sylvan Lake town council is taking a hard line on public cannabis consumption.
Council is considering rules banning cannabis smoking or any other consumption in all public places, even on private property, such as mall parking lots.
If passed, the regulations would go much further than recently passed smoking rules banning cigarettes, hookahs, pipes, electronic cigarettes, or medicinal marijuana from parks, playgrounds, school properties, sports fields, skate and bike parks, outdoor theatres, outdoor pools and splash pads.
A cannabis consumption bylaw came before council on Monday, but was tabled so staff could bring back definitions for public spaces and public property to clarify the scope of new regulations.
“They don’t want there to be any loopholes,” said town communications officer Joanne Gaudet.
Council is concerned that banning cannabis from public property will be interpreted as a prohibition only on town-owned property and not all public spaces as envisioned.
Council’s preferred approach goes beyond the recommendations of town staff, who support cannabis consumption rules in line with smoking regulations. Passing regulations that are too strict could open the town up to a legal challenge, staff warn.
“Administration is making this recommendation as we believe a total ban on the consumption of cannabis in public places will incite a legal challenge that could cost the municipality many thousands of dollars to defend as there is no legal precedent set,” says an earlier report from a senior manager.
Sylvan Lake would not be alone in passing a blanket ban on marijuana consumption in public places.
In April, City of Calgary passed its Cannabis Consumption Bylaw, which bans the public consumption of cannabis, similar to the regulations around alcohol. It was the first Alberta municipality to take that step.