Cannabis consumption area to debut at Calgary folk festival

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Calgary Folk Music Festival organizers are adding to their Prince’s Island Park site this year with a designated cannabis consumption area.

The fenced-off area will give cannabis users a place to consume, as long as they are at least 18 years old and are only bringing the legal amount into the event. But festival executive director Sara Leishman noted the new area is intended as a pilot project this weekend to see how it works.

“There’s no guarantee that we’ll have a cannabis consumption area in 2020,” she said. “But we do know that cannabis is legal now and we want to be proactive and figure out a way to deal with it in the early stages.”

Leishman said festival organizers have been working with the City of Calgary’s bylaw and parks departments, as well as Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis, since cannabis was legalized last October. The city granted the festival an exemption under the cannabis consumption bylaw to operate the designated area, Leishman said.

The consumption area will be monitored by security and IDs will be checked as people enter. Staff from Four20 Premium Market will also be on hand.

“Folk fest is going to have their own security to manage the premises and our team will just be on hand to give people some cannabis education and answer any questions that they might have,” said Four20 Premium Market vice-president of marketing, Amber Craig.

Leishman said the area, which will be on the far east end of Prince’s Island Park, will give attendees at the “family-friendly festival” the ability to consume cannabis or steer clear of it.

“Part of the reason that we are going forward with cannabis is offering people a place to experience the festival as they like to experience it, but at the same time, making sure that there is an area specific to that, so that people when they come with their families, with their kids, maybe they don’t want to engage or be around cannabis consumption — they can avoid that area,” she said. “And so this is about meeting everybody where they are.”

Under Calgary’s cannabis consumption bylaw, consumption of recreational cannabis is prohibited in public places. However, festival and event organizers can apply to provide a designated outdoor cannabis consumption area, similar to a beer garden. Under the federal Cannabis Act, adults can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis in a public place.

Folk festival organizers have listed cannabis consumption rules on their website, including a note that commercially manufactured edible cannabis products — which are still illegal — won’t be allowed in the park, and that the festival is “smoke-free” outside of designated tobacco smoking and cannabis consumption areas.

The Calgary Folk Music Festival runs from Thursday to Sunday.

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