Recreational pot is now officially legal

Here are some things you need to know and how legal recreational pot will affect you in Red Deer

October 17th, 2018 will forever go down in Canadian history as the day marijuana was legalized in the country.

Here are some things you need to know and how legal recreational pot will affect you in Red Deer.

Red Deerians interested in purchasing recreational marijuana can either order it from albertacannabis.org, which is operated by the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission, the province’s only online cannabis retailer, or buy from a licensed retail pot store.

The online retailer opens at 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 17th.

The legal limit is up to 30 grams of dried pot to carry or buy and households can grow up to four plants, while edibles remain illegal to sell or buy, except for ingredients sold at licensed retail pot stores.

Ordering online from the government requires verifying you are over the age of 18. Customers will have to fill out a form with personal information and the website will conduct a speedy background check.

At Red Deer Public Schools and Catholic Regional Schools, cannabis will be treated like any other substance that is illegal for students under the age of 18, say school representatives.

“Nothing really changes with the new legislation so we liken it very much to the way we’ve treated alcohol in our schools,” said Red Deer Public Schools Superintendent Stu Henry.

“Alcohol is legal but you certainly can’t be in possession of it at the school, you can’t be impaired by it at school, for the adults as well, not just the kids.”

Dave Khatib, associate superintendent of inclusive learning with Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools, said the school system will continue to educate students about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

The division will follow the Alberta Cannabis Framework, as well as the middle and high school curriculum. Schools will continue to strive to keep cannabis out of the hands of children and youth.

“We will continue to ensure students are aware of the dangers of drugs and alcohol. It is still illegal for those under age 18,” said Khatib in a press release.

“However, we do have supports available in our schools for students, including an Alberta Health Services addictions counsellor.”

Corp. Karyn Kay with the Red Deer RCMP said the main message police want the public to know is that using cannabis requires the same levels of responsibility as legal intoxicants, such as prescription drugs or alcohol. It is illegal to drive after consuming marijuana, she said.

“We encourage citizens to never drive while under the influence,” she said. “It’s the same as drinking alcohol, so plan ahead if you need a driver or call a cab. Impaired driving still remains the leading cause of death here in Canada.”

Kay added, “We’re making sure we are able to recognize impaired driving from cannabis impairment, such as we have standardized field sobriety tests so we’re training more members in regards to that so we are able to recognize the impaired driving.”

The RCMP is still waiting for the federal and provincial governments to change the impaired driving laws in Canada.

“We’re looking and trying to stay ahead of that,” she said. “The same thing with provincial ticketing, they are still developing that and what that is going to look like.”

Co-owner of Cannabis Cowboy, Ian Grotkowski, a cannabis retailer that was approved to open in Red Deer, said as a business person, the opportunity to be at the forefront of a new industry was too good to miss.

The franchise, which is set to open across Alberta, including two shops in Red Deer, will essentially sell anything used for marijuana consumption.

This includes cannabis flour and milk products, oils, capsules and seeds. It will also carry accessories such as grinders, dry floor vaporizers, rolling papers and lighters.

“It’s exciting,” said Grotkowski. “It’s not too often a brand new industry pops up in the business world.

“Right now, everything we are doing is on paper. We have zero customers so we don’t know 100 per cent whether our ideas are going to work or whether we’re going to have to change everything to adapt to the industry.”

While the store will not be ready to open Wednesday, the Cannabis Cowboy franchise is in the final approval process with the government.

“Our biggest hiccup has been finding out if we are allowed to sell merchandise or not,” he said. “We can sell anything that has to do with smoking or processing cannabis into the body but anything that does not have to do with cannabis we’re not allowed to sell.”

On Oct. 1oth, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association cautioned pet owners of the effects of cannabis exposure in pets.

The website states that the effects of marijuana in pets is not well studied, but some signs of exposure include sleepiness, depression, wobbling, pacing and agitation as well as sound or light sensitivity, among other effects. It also states that pets can suffer from inhaling second-hand smoke.

“Dog deaths have been rarely reported, but an American study in 2012 reported two dogs died after eating medical grade THC-containing butter,” the website reads. It also states that if they have been exposed to something they shouldn’t have been, to take them to the vet immediately.

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