Marijuana Bylaws Establish 10 Meter Buffer Zone in Edmonton
As the date of marijuana legalization in Canadian approaches, new laws are being set into place for cannabis and tobacco smokers. The places in the city where smoking was once permitted are now shrinking thanks to new marijuana bylaws. Mayor Don Iveson, along with Edmonton’s City Council, feel they have come to the best decision for the new cannabis smokers, but tobacco smokers are having to adhere to the new law as well.
How the marijuana bylaws come into play and who they are affecting
In a debate this past September, Mayor Don Iveson said this regarding marijuana bylaws,
“We have to have something in place by next month.”
This led to a 10-3 vote where councilors set into motion a 10-meter buffer zone near doorways, air intakes, windows, and bus shelters. The buffer zone used to be 5 meters for tobacco
smokers. Mayor Don Iveson reassures councilors that they can revisit one of the marijuana bylaws, the 10-meter buffer zone, in the future. However, before Oct. 17th, the important issue is having a concrete policy in place.
“We have to have something in place the city can enforce,”
Still, Mayor Don Iveson, says he has “real concerns about the unintended consequences,” for the hospitality industry.
“Pushing people off the sidewalk to others places for people to
consume,” isn’t something the Iveson wants to do. For more populated areas like Jasper and Whyte Avenue, business owners fear that with the new marijuana bylaws –– the 10-meter buffer zone –– consumers that smoke will detour completely.
Coun. Ben Henderson, tried to take action in changing the 10-meter buffer zone back to 5-meters. But, experts suggested to the councilors, that it’s best to begin with this marijuana bylaw, then, if needed, they could revisit it in the future.
The results of the survey
In the attempt to get public feedback, the City Council set the 10-meter buffer zone in motion for smokers this past July — changing it from 5 meters to 10 meters. After some time, the City Council backtracked the bylaw to see where the public stood in supporting the new law. The results they received, helped in their final decision, though Mayor Don Iveson feels, “there is no perfect solution.”
In the summer survey, the percentage of the public favored the new marijuana bylaw by 68%, whereas several local restaurants and bars reported lower in the survey.
Nevertheless, after surveying over 80 businesses within the neighborhood, the majority supported the 10-meter buffer zone.
Patron safety gains concern
Still, the executive director of the Old Strathcona Business Association, Cheere Klassen, along
with other business owners, are concerned for their customers and their safety.
Being 10 meters away, business owners
“will not be able to see them, they’re going to be out onto the street, they’re going to be pushed into back alleys where it’s dark, where it’s not well lit, where there aren’t ashtrays,”
“They are customers at the end of the day and that’s what our businesses want to ensure: that they can still provide accessibility for all of their customers.”
Revisiting marijuana bylaws in the future
The new marijuana bylaw will take effect on October 17th of this year. However, councilors plan to revisit one of the marijuana bylaws, the 10-meter buffer zone, next spring. They plan to take care of any changes that may need to be made. Councilor Scott Mckeen says,
“I don’t think it’s possible to get this right, right off the bat.”
According to Edmonton’s Cannabis Rules, smokers using vaping products, cannabis (medical and recreational), and tobacco, are expected to follow the rules on where they are allowed to smoke. As private properties, owners are allowed to set their own smoking restrictions on their own properties.
In the city, smokers will have to adhere to the 10-meter buffer zone near doorways (entrances
and exits), air intakes, windows, and bus stations.
By: Joy Hughes