The District of Elkford will hold an open house on proposed cannabis regulations today (September 19). Black Press File Photo

East Kootenay town considers public smoking ban ahead of cannabis legalization

Under the proposed regulations, anyone caught smoking or vaping in public will face a $2000 fine

Elkford residents can say goodbye to getting high in public under new regulations proposed by the District.

In preparation for the legalization of recreational cannabis in Canada next month, the District has been working to develop a regulatory framework for cannabis sales, use and consumption “in a way that respects the unique needs and values” of the community.

Under a new bylaw, the consumption of cannabis will be prohibited in any place within the District other than on private property.

Anyone caught smoking or vaping in public will face a $2000 fine.

The District has also proposed changes to zoning and business license and regulation bylaws to allow cannabis dispensaries and production facilities to operate in Elkford.

The public smoking ban has drawn criticism from the Toronto chapter of a global grassroots advocacy group.

Consumer Choice Center North American Affairs Manager David Clement believes banning public consumption unfairly targets low income residents who rent their homes.

“If you rent your home, you are almost always prohibited from smoking indoors,” he said.

“A public consumption bylaw would mean that those renters would not be able to consume outdoors, all while it is illegal to smoke indoors in a commercial setting (bars and lounges).

“The bylaw ultimately excludes low income residents from cannabis legalization all together.”

Elkford Mayor Dean McKerracher defended the regulations.

“We’re going to treat cannabis as if it was an alcoholic substance,” he said.

“We’re following the regulations of the federal and provincial government by not allowing the smoking of cannabis on the streets, the same as you’re not allowed to drink beer on the streets.”

McKerracher declined to respond to the CCC’s concerns but said Clement had not contacted him directly.

“If he wants to talk to me, he can call me,” he said.

Elkford residents can learn more about the proposed cannabis regulations at an open house on Wednesday, September 19.

There will be two sessions held from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. in Meeting Room #2 at the Elkford Community Conference Centre

Councillors will vote on the regulations at the next regular meeting of council of September 24.

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