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City councillor raises cannabis concerns

As marijuana legalization looms there are still questions lingering in the minds of many, including one Grande Prairie city councillor. Clyde Blackburn took to Facebook earlier this week to voice his concerns about the anticipated overhaul to the laws.

In his post, Blackburn outlines his worries about the intoxicating effects of the drug. He says he sees a distinct difference between the use of marijuana for medical purposes versus recreational use but still has concerns.

“For me it seems that those people who use recreational cannabis for the excuse of medicinal purposes may be self-prescribing something that isn’t going to be good for them or may have unknown or adverse medical effects.”

Blackburn is also concerned about age restrictions. The Alberta government has made the legal age to purchase pot 18, the same age requirement for alcohol and tobacco purchases. Blackburn says he would have liked to have seen that increased.

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“I’ve read all kinds of reports and comments that youth under the age of 25 could be at a greater risk in their brain development as a result of consuming cannabis. And it just bothers me that we are setting a limit of 18.”

A number of studies in recent years have supported the fact that youth pot smoking could have an impact on brain development. The province recently announced additional steps meant to ensure pot shops could not target kids or youth with advertising or appealing names. Rules also banned the use of any sort of medical type branding like “pharma” or “medi” on recreational bud.

Alberta RCMP have also expressed concern about the potential increase to the number of impaired drivers behind the wheel. Mounties have said they are working to increase the number of Drug Recognition Experts on their staff to ensure they can handle the any impacts of the increased availability of pot.

The city has posted more detailed information about their plan as the process continues to unfold including an anticipated timeline. Every city council meeting has an open floor delegation portion for any resident to speak to council.

The May 22, 2018 meeting will be where all of the bylaw changes related to cannabis will be discussed and is open to the public. If adopted that night an intake period will run from May 23 to June 1, 2018 for anyone interested in submitting an application for a business license.

Blackburn acknowledges that changes can be difficult and he appreciates the work the city staff have done to prepare.

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