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Grande Prairie preparing for marijuana legalization

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With the federal legalization of marijuana a little over a year away, the city is working on its own approach to regulations in Grande Prairie. Staff have been tasked with figuring out how city hall will deal with retail sales locally.

At this point, it’s unknown what kind of authorities local municipalities will have. Potentially, they could decide what land use zones retail shops and commercial production facilities can run out of. They may also be able to regulate use in public places, and create municipal enforcement bylaws.

The proposed federal legislation would only allow people 18 and older to buy and use marijuana, and allow adults to grow up to four plants in their home. It would also create rules for producers, regulate mail sales, and add drug-impaired driving to the criminal code.

Each provincial government will be able to increase the minimum age, lower the possession limit, and create a regulated sales system. The province will also be able to create more rules for growing marijuana in private homes, and restrict where pot can be consumed. The provincial government will also be responsible for deciding what responsibilities municipalities will have.

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City planner Alison Downing has recommended that the City of Grande Prairie follow in the City of Edmonton’s footsteps and work on a zoning bylaw amendment that would create a new definition for marijuana-related uses. However, it wouldn’t be added to any districts until the province makes its own decisions. The idea is to avoid these businesses finding a loophole by calling them retail or convenience stores.

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