(Reuters) – The Calgary Stampede, known as the largest annual party in the country, banned cannabis use on its home turf the first year the legislature legalized the importance of drugs across the country.
FILE PHOTO: Visitors arrive at the Calgary Stampede gateway on the first day of the Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Canada on July 6, 2018. Photo taken on July 6, 2018. REUTERS / Marcy Nicholson / File Photo
The Stampede, which began Thursday and ends on July 14, attracts tourists from around the world for its rodeo and chuckwagon races, but much of the action takes place away from official venues at parties hosted by oil and gas companies.
Cannabis use will not be permitted in the 230-hectare Stampede Park, although alcohol use and smoking are allowed in some areas, said Stampede spokesperson Jennifer Booth.
"Because legislation (legalizing cannabis) is so recent, we are taking the opportunity to understand the impact of cannabis use at other events," said Booth, adding that she had received favorable comments about this policy. "If a person consumes cannabis, he will be politely asked not to take it."
Canada became the first developed country to legalize recreational cannabis last year. Several Canadian provinces have reduced their forecast of cannabis revenues due to a slow start due to a shortage of supplies and higher prices compared to the black market.
The Calgary Cannabis By-law prohibits recreational consumption in public places, which carries a fine of $ 100 ($ 76.30). The law allows public events to provide areas designated for cannabis use, similar to beer gardens.
The Stampede chose not to apply for a cannabis production license, as the park is a "family gathering place," Booth said.
For some, like Gordon Hayes, Events Manager for the Calgary Cannabis Club, the Stampede's policy is harsh and problematic for people who use cannabis for medical reasons.
"We are supposed to be wild, wild West," Hayes said. "People say they are trying to protect children, but in my mind, seeing a man drunk and throwing up on himself is a more damaging image than one who consumes cannabis."
Calgary, located near the Rocky Mountains, is the heart of Canada's oil industry.
Attendance at the Stampede fell by 30% Thursday compared to the first day of the previous year in rainy weather, the organizers said. Last year, the Stampede attracted nearly 1.3 million people.
Rod Nickel reportage in Winnipeg, Manitoba; Edited by Matthew Lewis
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