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The countdown to July 2018, when the federal government plans to legalize cannabis is on, as the Alberta government released their first draft for the province’s cannabis framework.
The proposed framework identified four key priorities such as keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth, protecting public health, promoting safety on roads, in workplaces and in public spaces and limiting the illegal cannabis market.
“Albertans also told us many other issues are on their mind when it comes to the impending legalization by the federal government in July,” said Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley, in a press conference.
The minimum age to purchase and or consume cannabis is proposed to be 18 years old, which aligns with the minimum age for tobacco and alcohol use.
“We recognize there are health concerns around young people using cannabis, but we also know that young people, those between the ages of 18 and 25 are the largest age category of users in Alberta. Setting the age at 18 will encourage younger people to access cannabis legally instead of getting it through a drug dealer,” said Ganley.
She noted they are not encouraging use at 18, rather to ensure those who decide to use cannabis are getting a safe product.
“That is generally the age we allow people to make adult decisions,” added Ganley.
In public an adult may legally possess 30 grams, while at home in private there is no limit.
However, youth who are in possession if it is five grams or less they won’t face criminal charges but sanctions such as fines, similar to those for underage possession of alcohol and tobacco. If those under 18 are in possession of five grams or more they will continue to face criminal charges.
People over the age of 18 will be able to consume cannabis at home and in some public spaces.
“Smoking and vaping would be banned in vehicles, at schools and hospitals, and in places frequented by children, like within five meters of playgrounds, spray parks and zoos,” said Ganley.
There will be some restrictions if a person wants to grow cannabis at home.
That is four plants per household, not per person, and they can only be up to a height of one meter, and must be grown indoors.
The proposed model has the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission to oversee the compliance and distribution of non-medical cannabis.
“It’s a model we have experience with. Under this model government would have control over the products coming into Alberta, this would help to ensure only legally produced products are sold here,” said Ganley.
Cannabis retailers will not be able to sell alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceuticals.
As of now, online sales will not be part of the initial system, but something that needs more information on.
“We recognize the importance of this option being available, but we want to be absolutely confident that we can verify the person ordering cannabis and the person accepting delivery is of age,” said Ganley.
The government also said they won’t have specialized cannabis cafes or lounges for the start of the roll out, as that is something that needs to be worked on with the federal rules for edible cannabis.
Back in June the Alberta government announced its first stage of engagement for those in the province. They asked Albertans to give their thoughts on the legalization of cannabis.
More than 45,000 Albertans participated in the online survey.
“What we heard from Albertans helped guide the development of a draft cannabis framework,” said Ganley.
The government is now implementing their second phase of engagement.
Albertans will have until Oct. 27 to give feedback on the proposed rules as part of the online survey at www.alberta.ca/cannabis.