After months of planning and discussion, the Alberta Government has announced its framework for the legalization of cannabis.
This framework, announced in a press conference Wednesday morning, will be the basis for provincial laws and legislation in regards to the substance.
Alberta will be following the guidelines set in place by the federal government, according to the framework.
The legal age of consumption and purchase of cannabis will be 18-years-old. This aligns with the legal age for tobacco and alcohol. The federal government set the legal age at 18, giving the provinces the right raise the legal age as required.
The Alberta government has chosen not to change the limit of public possession as set by the federal government. The public possession limit will remain at 30 grams, which is equivalent to about 30 joints.
The safety of children and youth is a priority for the Alberta government. As such a zero-tolerance policy will be in place for anyone under age caught possessing cannabis.
Those underage and caught possessing under five grams will be subject to seizure, notification of parents or guardians and a ticket. This is not an issue addressed in the federal legislation. Possession over five grams will be subject to the Criminal Code.
The safety of children and potential exposure was also considered when it came to the issue of public use.
Mike Tomiyama, vice president of operations for 420 Clinic which works with the provincial and municipal governments to create frameworks and policies regarding cannabis, said public use was a key issue many people had with legalization.
“A lot of people are concerned with the idea of people just lighting up anywhere and walking around,” Tomiyama said.
The provincial government will restrict public use to “protect children and limit second-hand exposure.”
The smoking or vaping of cannabis will be banned anywhere smoking or vaping tobacco products is banned. The use of cannabis will also be banned on hospital grounds, school properties and in areas frequented by children. This includes playgrounds, childcare facilities, sports fields, skateboard parks, outdoor pools, splash parks, zoos and public washrooms.
“It’s not going to be as apparent as people think. It’ll be similar to drinking in public places, which isn’t allowed,” said Tomiyama.
The province will be working to address impaired driving issued with the legalization of marijuana.
There will be new tools to address this issue which will align with Bill C-46. The provincial government is also developing specific programs in regards to impaired driving.
Legislation will be introduced prior to July 2018, when cannabis will be legalized across the country.
Albertans will be able to share views on the framework as part of the online survey at www.alberta.ca/cannabis until Oct. 27.