Inside Calgary’s Marijuana Debate

Article by Carrie Tait, The Globe and Mail

Inside Calgary’s marijuana debate As the province gears up to consult residents on its recreational pot regulations, advocates from all sides of the debate are keen to have their voices heard, Carrie Tait reports

Nathan Adams stands behind a bar, looking like a mixologist tending to fussy cocktail enthusiasts who order French 75s and charred pineapple mojitos. The bar is stocked with the necessary tools to please these particular patrons: a press to squeeze plants, a blowtorch, custom hand-blown glass vessels made by local artists.

This bar is for members of an underground society. Here, folks consume cannabis rather than Kahlua. This is Mr. Adam’s basement. This is a smoke lounge. This is the Calgary Cannabis Society’s headquarters.

And this is legal, Mr. Adams says as he uses a hydraulic press from Canadian Tire to squeeze a handful of marijuana buds between parchment paper. He is extracting resin.

“Most people here are carded medical users,” he says. Most. Those who are not possess and consume cannabis at their own risk.

Provincial and municipal governments across Canada are prepping regulations to govern recreational cannabis use – rules that must be in place by July 1, 2018, when adults can legally use the drug.

The Calgary Cannabis Society (CCS) wants governments to consider this residential basement filled with friends a legal establishment frequented by patrons. It wants officials to consider it legitimate and it wants to make a profit. Indeed, Canada’s recreational- and medical-marijuana markets could be worth a combined $9-billion by 2024, according to industry participants.

How Canadians can access legal marijuana and where they can consume it will be at the centre of the debate among provinces, who must come up with their own regulations. Right now, for example, Alberta shuts down dispensaries. In British Columbia, municipalities license such operations. This means, depending on perspective, Alberta is either behind on forming regulations or is starting the process with a clean slate.

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