Re-write Calgary's restrictive, discriminatory cannabis laws
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This petition calls for the re-drafting of this awful by-law. We want to be able to consume cannabis in public within reason, similar to tobacco consumption by-laws. In the absence of this, we want the ability to open cannabis lounges or designated places to consume cannabis free of persecution. This by-law did not exist when cannabis itself was illegal. Now that it's on the verge of legalization, city council is making cannabis use more restrictive.
On April 5, 2018, Calgary City Council voted 10-4 in favour of banning smoking, vaping, or consuming cannabis in public. Combined with a provincial ban on cannabis lounges, this bylaw squarely targets a range of marginalized users while stigmatizing cannabis and its users.
Effectively, this bylaw makes it illegal to consume cannabis anywhere other than an owned home, or if your landlord expressly permits smoking.
Young adults aged 18-25, who typically rent or live in college dormitories (and who will form a sizeable portion of consumers), will be unable to legally consume cannabis unless their landlord permits it (highly unlikely). Age aside, anyone who lives in an apartment building, condominium, secondary suite or other rented accommodation, or any other form of multi-unit dwelling (such as senior and assisted living facilities) will be unable to legally consume cannabis for the same reasons, affecting even more of the population.
Homeless individuals or those living in social housing, regardless of age, will be unable to legally consume cannabis, unless it is permitted in shelters and the offices of social agencies (highly unlikely).
This has the alarming side effect of disproportionately affecting other marginalized populations, such as First Nations and people of colour. These groups are at a much higher risk of being stopped and questioned by the police (carded) which gives law enforcement even broader powers of prejudice given many people, regardless of race, will be cannabis consumers.
Taken together with the ongoing opioid epidemic and evidence that legal cannabis reduces opioid prescriptions and deaths, Calgary City Council is turning its back on public health and encouraging the consumption of other, more dangerous, addictive, and problematic drugs.
This would of course be much less of an issue if cannabis lounges were permitted, but as of now, they are prohibited by the provincial government, leaving people to either break the by-law or not consume cannabis whatsoever. This creates a two-tier system whereby only the wealthiest individuals in our city will be legally allowed to consume cannabis, or be the gatekeepers to allowing others to consume cannabis on their owned property.
Not only does this negatively affect Calgarians, it puts a humongous dent in tourism. Cannabis tourism specifically is a booming industry, generating millions of dollars in revenue. Visitors from around the world who will travel to Canada to take part in legalization, while specifically enjoying our beautiful city, will be breaking the law if they choose to consume. If they receive a ticket for a by-law infraction, you can guarantee they will never pay it, wasting administrative time and tying up by-law officers who should be enforcing other problems.
Calgary City Council says this decision was made to prevent the public from inadvertent second-hand highs and to avoid public nuisance. While virtuous in intention, this is a misguided approach. Findings suggest anyone exposed to second-hand cannabis smoke in a poorly ventilated room with the windows closed, will test positive. In other words, using indoors is riskier. Not to mention hotels, hostels, and other temporary accommodations will become clandestine places to smoke for visitors. Cannabis use also reduces violent crime, and Calgary City Councillor Sean Chu himself even said he's never encountered a violent cannabis user in his years as a police officer.
Sign this petition and show Calgary City Council you're serious about your right to consume cannabis. Not only for your own benefit, but for the benefit of our city and its people.
CC: Calgary City Council, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Sarah Marjorie Hoffman (Alberta Minister of Health), Deron Bilous (Alberta Minister of Economic Development and Trade), Kathleen Ganley (Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General), Shayne Anderson (Alberta Minister of Municipal Affairs), Irfan Sabir (Alberta Minister of Community and Social Services), Ricardo Miranda (Alberta Minister of Culture and Tourism)
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