WHEREAS Bill 26, An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis, received Royal Assent on December 15, 2017; and
WHEREAS Bill 26 has amended the Gaming and Liquor Act to the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act; and
WHEREAS Bill 26, Section 90.28 states “no person may smoke or vape cannabis in any area or place where that person is prohibited from smoking under the Tobacco and Smoking Reduction Act or any other Act or the bylaws of a municipality”; and
WHEREAS secondhand cannabis smoke can harm nonusers; and
WHEREAS consumption of cannabis will have similar effects as consumption of alcohol; and
WHEREAS the consumption of cannabis should be prohibited in areas frequented by the general public and especially by children; and
WHEREAS Alberta Health Services recommends that municipalities implement regulations banning consumption in public places, as well as for public intoxication; and
WHEREAS the Government of Canada has implemented an advertisement slogan (“#don’t drive high”) which amplifies the issue of the consumption of cannabis while driving;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta request that the Government of Alberta amend Section 90.28 (a) of An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis to reflect that no person may smoke or vape cannabis in any area or place where that person is prohibited from consuming liquor under the Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Act or any other Act or the bylaws of a municipality.
In an effort to protect children and limit second-hand exposure, public smoking or vaping of cannabis in Alberta will be prohibited from any place where tobacco is restricted, and in the following places:
There will also be no consumption of cannabis at any cannabis retail outlets.
Legislation will establish provincial offenses for public consumption infractions and consumption of cannabis in vehicles.
Municipalities may create additional restrictions on public consumption using their existing authorities
(Source: Government of Alberta web-site)
“Other jurisdictions have seen an increase in impaired driving when cannabis has become legal,” Mason said, adding the province will roll out a public education campaign. “The real risk here is that people don’t feel cannabis is quite as bad or … is impairing a substance as alcohol. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
(Source: Brian Mason, Minister of Transportation- Edmonton Journal article dated November 15, 2017)
(Source: Alberta Health Services Recommendations – Municipal Cannabis Regulations – February 20, 2018)
Crashes involving alcohol and/or drugs are a leading criminal cause of death in Canada. On average, approximately four people are killed each day in crashes involving alcohol and/or drugs. In 2013, there were a total of 2,430 crash deaths on public roads, involving at least one highway vehicle (e.g. passenger cars, vans, trucks, or motorcycles).
Based on testing of fatally-injured drivers, it may be estimated that 1,451 (59.7%) of these deaths involved drivers who had some alcohol and/or drugs in their system.
369 deaths, or 15.2%, occurred in crashes involving drivers who were positive for alcohol alone.
683 deaths, or 28.1%, occurred in crashes involving drivers who were positive for drugs alone.
399 deaths, or 16.4%, occurred in crashes involving drivers who were positive for both alcohol and drugs.
The statistics reflect the growing incidence of driving after drug use, which now exceeds that for driving after alcohol use. Cannabis, the most commonly-found drug, is present in almost half of the drug positive fatal crashes.
Further information on the risks associated with public cannabis consumption can be found in AHS Recommendations on Cannabis Regulations for Alberta Municipalities, a document prepared by Alberta Health Services intended to support municipalities in making cannabis policy decisions that will promote public health. The report can be accessed at: http://rmalberta.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Webinar-recording-Cannabis-and-Public-Health-AHS-Cannabis-Information-Package-for-Municipalities.pdf. A summary of the report’s recommendations is as follows:
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
Where evidence is incomplete or inconclusive, AHS is advising that a precautionary approach be taken to minimize unintended consequences. This approach is consistent with the recommendations of Federal Taskforce on the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis (Government of Canada, 2016).
Business Regulation & Retail
Research and Evaluation
14-17F: Cannabis Act
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties advocate that the Government of Alberta oppose the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in the Province of Alberta until a complete understanding of the implications that the legalization of cannabis will have on the health of individuals and on community safety is publicly available.
DEVELOPMENT: While RMA appreciates that the Government of Alberta has conducted extensive public engagement, with input from health, law enforcement and other subject area experts to understand the impacts of cannabis legalization, the fact remains that there are significant gaps in academic, government and industry research efforts related to the impacts of legalized cannabis on public health and community safety. RMA acknowledges that there is a stark difference between understanding concerns from stakeholders and understanding actual implications gleaned from empirical research in communities in which cannabis is legalized. RMA recognizes that this issue is not well researched, however, staff have been actively assisting municipalities in adapting to these changes by providing workshops and information as it becomes available. This resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met. RMA will continue to advocate that the Government of Alberta lead social and health impact assessments once cannabis has been legalized.
Alberta Treasury Board and Finance
While alcohol can be lawfully consumed in licensed establishments, no such premises exists for cannabis use, given the increased public health risks associated with smoking or vaping indoors.
By providing some open-air public spaces where cannabis can be lawfully used, the province can mitigate the health risks associated with indoor use. It should also be noted that municipalities have the right to augment provincial public use rules with their own bylaws, including bans against public use.
Alberta Justice and Solicitor General
Alberta Justice and Solicitor General has no input, as the resolution is no longer within the ministry’s mandate. In July 2018, Alberta Treasury Board and Finance assumed the lead role on the cannabis file for the Government of Alberta.
RMA understands that public consumption challenges differ between cannabis and alcohol due to the different ways the substances are consumed. However, several provinces and territories in Canada have chosen to prohibit public consumption of cannabis. RMA encourages Alberta to review the public health and enforcement impacts of its current public consumption allowances and compare them with impacts in jurisdictions that prohibit public consumption periodically.
This resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met, and RMA will continue to advocate on this issue.