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What you need to know about legalization in Grande Prairie

Where can you consume?

Unlike most of the Peace country, people in Grande Prairie will be able to smoke in some public places once cannabis is legal. Deputy Director of Protective Services Chris Manuel says the city’s decision not to outright ban consumption was a practical one.

“There’s no lounges and you’re a renter and you live in an apartment and you can’t consume there and you can’t consume in vehicles. We decided that it’s in the best interest to try to guide people to the appropriate spots than just disregard the rules altogether.”

Provincial law bans people from smoking in vehicles, along with around hospitals, schools, playgrounds and anywhere else where children would likely be. The city adds that marijuana can’t be smoked anywhere tobacco can’t be smoked, including the front entrance of the movie theatre, and has also made the downtown core marijuana smoke-free.

“There’s a corridor downtown on 100 Avenue and 101 Avenue between Resources Road and 102 Street which council has designated a cannabis-free zone, so there will be no public consumption of cannabis in that area,” explains Manuel.

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Grande Prairie Regional College has banned all smoking from its campuses, and rental company Boardwalk has also banning smoking, eating or growing cannabis on all of its properties.

Otherwise, smoking is welcome on public streets and parking lots, as long as other people are adversely affected. Fines of up to $250 could be issued to anyone who goes against the laws, but Manuel says officers will likely just be educating people in the early stages of legalization.

Where can you buy?

There won’t be anywhere to legally buy recreational marijuana in Grande Prairie on October 17th. Of the 17 licences Alberta Gaming Liquor and Cannabis has issued so far, none are in northern Alberta. However, residents will be able to purchase weed through the province’s website albertacannabis.org and medical users can still use the local clinic for mail delivery.

As of a week ago, 18 cannabis retailers had applied for licences. Manuel says based off of his conversations with the province, it’s unlikely any will open in the city for probably another month.

“Our conversations with the retailers that seem to be close are probably in that three to four [week range]. There’s a number of factors that influence that, but I think we’re still at least a couple weeks away.”

Once local retailers are ready, they’ll be allowed to sell from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. People can buy and carry up to 30 grams of dried cannabis at a time. Edibles are still illegal, but the federal government is looking at legalizing them in a year.

What if you want to grow?

Anyone in Grande Prairie wanting to grow their own pot plants will need to get a permit from Enforcement Services at City on 99th. Federal law limits each home to four plants.

“We’re asking that people that wish to do that obtain a free permit from the city as just a mechanism to register those operations in case complaints are received,” says Manuel.

Due to the lack of local sales, Enforcement Services isn’t expecting to see any major events come Wednesday, but Manuel says officers are prepared if so.

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