News / Calgary

Calgary's proposed pot store rules more restrictive on cannabis: potential retailer

Retailers watch on as city drafts regs on where shops can open

Marijuana will be sold in tamper-proof sealed containers, like the one pictured.

Vanessa Tignanelli / Kitchener Staff GRMP

Marijuana will be sold in tamper-proof sealed containers, like the one pictured.

The cans and can'ts for Calgary cannabis retailers are taking shape this month, but some prospective sellers are pointing out that perception could still be tainting the city's proposed bylaws.

On Wednesday, councillors will see administration's land use amendments to add cannabis retail store rules to the city's bylaws. These tweaks will go before the council in an April public hearing.

Out of three options, the city's going with one that would treat cannabis retailers a little like liquor stores – but not entirely the same as booze businesses.

"It will make it more difficult and complex," said Ryan Kaye VP of Operations with the 420 Clinic.

These rules include keeping marijuana retailers 300 metres apart from each other, 30 metres away from liquor stores, 150 metres from emergency shelters, post-secondaries and other schools, as well as 10 metres away from payday loan stores, pawn shops and child care services.

Coun. Jyoti Gondek worries the city's approach is piecemeal, because of the impending introduction of edibles and lounges sometime in the future – and a federal deadline to have legislation ready for when weed is legal.

"It's not allowing us to give proper contextualized thought to how things could look," said Gondek.

The city's rules currently don't stop pawn shops from being close to liquor stores – though some community groups discourage clustering the storefronts. Pawn shops in Calgary can't be within 200 metres of an existing pawn shop, and liquor stores have to be separated by 300 metres.

"There's no issues and concerns over payday loans and pawn shops, our society seems comfortable with the idea that people are not going to sell everything they own to go buy liquor," said Kaye. "We don't believe that there should be that concern with cannabis."

He said restricting marijuana retailers above and beyond what is already in place for liquor stores doesn't make sense. One of the examples he points to is the inclusion of post-secondary institutions in the separation distance portion of the bylaw.

Gondek also sees post-secondary inclusion as problematic.

"That's going to be interesting, I don't know how that's close to being defensible," said Gondek. "They're grown-ass people."

Gondek said the city needs to decide if these stores will be treated like liquor stores, or not – and she's concerned about the city's rationale for treating cannabis differently.

The city's document suggests the separation is in place because they want to limit immediate access and visibility from places where young people are learning.

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