After intense debate, city council decided to table the Personal Cultivation of Cannabis Bylaw in order to conduct more public consultation on the matter.
“We wanted to have the opportunity to engage the community for further dialogue regarding this bylaw,” said Chestermere’s Mayor Marshall Chalmers.
The proposed bylaw, which passed first reading on Dec. 4, proposes that residents wishing to grow cannabis in single-detached houses or accessory structures in Chestermere will be required to have a license at a cost of $35.
The license would then allow a person to grow up to the Federally mandated limit of four cannabis plants.
In debating the proposed bylaw, council raised concerns ranging from how the bylaw would be enforced to the fact that through freedom of information laws, people would be able to find out whether a property has had a license approved.
Concerns were also raised about how permitting growing would affect real estate values and whether personal cultivation could lead to use of cannabis by minors.
Councillor Mel Foat took the position that he would like to see the city take a stand and disallow personal cultivation of cannabis.
Council also felt that they had insufficient information from the community in regards to what the public want to see for the regulation of personal cultivation of cannabis in the city.
In preparing the bylaw, the city hosted a survey online asking for resident’s feedback on whether a license should be needed.
The results, which had too few respondents to be considered and accurate gauge of the community as a whole, showed a majority of respondents where against regulation of the growing of cannabis.
The survey results conflict with what councillors have been hearing from residents.
“After debate, council obviously felt that by tabling it we wanted to have the opportunity to engage the community for further dialogue regarding this bylaw,” said Chalmers.
“At some point we have to make a decision but clearly council at the end of the day felt that we at least needed to give it one more kick to try and engage the community on this topic,” he said.
Chalmers said that council is working hard to try and get the Personal Cultivation of Cannabis Bylaw right.
“We’ll try and do the best we can and get it as close to the mark as we can initially but like all other communities across the country, we’re going to have to live it for a year or two and then adjust as we see where we need to,” said Chalmers.