On Wednesday, the Edmonton, Alberta city community and public services committee agreed to rules allowing the smoking of cannabis in outdoor public spaces like parks and sidewalks, the CBC reports. Cannabis smokers in outside spaces would conform to similar rules as tobacco smokers, remaining 10 meters away from doors and open windows and 30 meters away from areas for children such as playgrounds. Smoking would also be prohibited on restaurant patios and at places like schools and event venues.

The committee had the choice of classifying cannabis more like alcohol, with strict controls on consumption, but chose to support more relaxed rules. City Councillor Ben Henderson supported the decision, pointing out that there would likely be unintended consequences regardless of which ruleset the committee chose.

“If we make it too restrictive about where people can use it … then where are people going to partake of a substance that presumably will be legal shortly?” — Ben Henderson, to the CBC

Another City Councillor, Michael Walters, disagreed with the recommendations. Walters doesn’t support smoking on public sidewalks and recreation fields and said he’s seen no evidence in other jurisdictions of stricter rules resulting in unintended consequences. Some businesses on Whyte Avenue, one of Edmonton’s major shopping and tourism areas, are also concerned that second-hand smoke will scare away customers during the summer months when most businesses leave their doors open.

Chris Hansen, however, owner of the “On Whyte” tobacco shop thinks policing the ability to smoke on sidewalks would be difficult.

“If we’re going to start regulating the smells that walk by on Whyte Avenue, it will become a much less busy street.” — Chris Hansen, to the CBC

The committee’s Wednesday decision is not the final word on the matter. The council can still make amendments to the bylaw during its July 4th meeting.

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June 18, 2018

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