Youth rehash cannabis concerns

By Geoff Lee

February 22, 2018 10:31 AM

Lloydminster Youth Council members and Grade 12 Lloydminster Comprehensive High School students, Dustin Snider, left, and Rhianna McCaffrey made a presentation titled Cannabis and Me to city council at a Governance and Priorities Committee meeting Tuesday. GEOFF LEE LLS PHOTO

The Lloydminster Youth Council is keeping the conversation around the retailing of cannabis to youth in the city current and on going.
Grade 12 Lloydminster Comprehensive High School students Rhianna McCaffrey and Dustin Snider made a presentation on behalf of the LYC to council Tuesday on youth concerns and recommendations for passing cannabis bylaws in our border city.
“We really wanted to stress education and the dangers of the use of marijuana to the youth,” said McCaffrey following the presentation to the Governance and Priorities Committee meeting.
McCaffrey also handed out some marijuana seed packs to council members along with a receipt showing how easy it was for her to purchase some seeds from local stores without being asked for ID.
She said the seeds have the ability to grow into plants that can produce up to 1,000 grams of marijuana.
“When I spoke with a member of the RCMP to see the legality of it, I was informed there are currently no laws regarding the age you can sell marijuana seeds, which is quite horrifying when you think a 10 year-old could go in the store and buy marijuana seeds,” she said.
The presentation followed the Alberta Government releasing details on who can own cannabis stores, where they can be located, along with rules for employees, safety, security and other operational details on Friday.
The Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission will oversee distribution and enforcement of the cannabis retail system in Alberta with 250 stores to be licensed.
“Some of the concerns we had were the regulations around both selling to youth, and also the regulations around the usage and how it can impact youth in our city, including use in public spaces such as parks and the mall and stuff like that,” said Snider.
Municipal approval is required before the AGLC will issue a retail cannabis store licence, but the LYC is concerned about the impact of Lloydminster having two sets of provincial rules.
Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers said there’s some rules that the city can address and some that they can’t, citing two different legal ages to purchase alcohol in the city as an example.
“We have no control over that because that is a provincial statute that determines the ages—that could be the same with marijuana or cannabis,” said Aalbers.
Lorelee Marin, chair of the Lloydminster Youth Council Steering Committee, said safety is a big concern regarding the potential availability of cannabis to young people.
“That normalization of another product that causes harm to youth is certainly a concern for us,” said Marin.
“What will that look like in Lloydminster; what will it look like for sales in our community and how do we protect children and youth from another harmful product?”
Alberta has set a 100-metre buffer for stores from schools and provincial health-facilities, but cities like Lloydminster can adjust the zones to suit their needs.
Aalbers said Saskatchewan could impose a 150-metre buffer, for example, while city council could set a 150 or 200-metre limit once they deem what’s appropriate for our community.
“We do have the ability to influence some items, but there are some items that are governed by federal and provincial statutes that we cannot,” he said.
“Stay tuned to what the final product will be once everyone decides where they stand on the cannabis issue.”
Aalbers said he certainly appreciated hearing from youth concerns on what he called the cannabis file assuring them there would be no drive-thru cannabis dispensaries as they previously feared.
“Certainly they had several items that I know we have already looked at or we have asked administration to make sure we clarify in bylaw regulations,” he said.
“It’s always refreshing to have someone’s view, especially from them as the teenagers as our future government officials are very likely sitting around that table in some years.”
Marin was also proud of the presentation by McCaffrey and Snider.
“They are always looking at opportunities to share their voice and engage with other youth in the community to understand what the issues are related to growing up in Lloydminster and then sharing them with city council,” she said.
“So they did a spectacular job researching and preparing the presentation for today for city council’s consideration.”
The youth council also plans to participate in an Alberta-wide Cannabis Let’s Talk session involving a survey of about 500 youth with a time and date to be determined.
“The cohort survey will go out to the school either right before Easter or right after, and then the youth will listen to the kids’ responses and they’ll invite a random group of youth to get together and have conversation around their concerns around Cannabis or what they think is okay,” explained Marin.
“We’ll do some myth busting with them as well into the facts around cannabis.”

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