At the July 25 Committee of the Whole meeting, Fernie resident Sarah-Jane Nelson addressed City Council in regards to the legalization of cannabis.
In April, Health Minister Jane Philpott announced the government’s intention to legalize marijuana in the coming year. Currently, the Federal government has set up a task force, comprised of eight professionals from various industries including health, law and policy-making.
The job of the task force, according to the Government of Canada’s website, is to “seek input on the design of a new system to legalize, strictly regulate and restrict access to marijuana. Their advice will be considered by the Government of Canada as the new framework is developed.”
Canadian citizens and municipalities have until Aug. 29 to send in comments and provide input into the task force. Nelson is hoping the City of Fernie will provide their input and open a discussion about how the legalization of cannabis would work in Fernie.
“There is a lot for the Federal government to put in place over the next year and they want feedback now for designing and implementing an effective system. I don’t want the City of Fernie to miss out on this time sensitive discussion,” read Nelson from a letter addressed to Council. “With no illegal dispensary in Fernie, we have a clean slate to work with moving forward.”
Nelson believes this is a great opportunity for residents of Fernie to cite their concerns with the legalization of cannabis and to create policy that supports what the community would like to see.
“I feel like it is a wish list. So if there are some people who are really against a storefront or a dispensary, they should voice their opinion on that and state why, rather than when the storefront shows up, be up in arms about that this is happening to their community,” she told The Free Press.
Nelson recently took a course from Kwantlen Polytechnic University, called the Professional Management of Marijuana for Medical Purposes in Canada, which focused on the marijuana for medicinal purpose regulations (MMPR). As a registered nurse, she believes medicinal cannabis can be a positive alternative for people who are suffering from a number of conditions.
The City of Fernie has set a tentative date for a special meeting of Council after the Committee of the Whole meeting on Aug. 22.
The focus of the meeting will be to participate in the task force and send their input to Ottawa.