City of Leduc spikes cartoon 'spokesbud' for new cannabis bylaws

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After mixed reviews of the City of Leduc's cannabis character Buddy, the city has dropped its "spokesbud."

The character was developed to help draw attention to Leduc's cannabis bylaws.

Leduc council decided to drop the character at a meeting Monday night, just five days after the new character had been revealed on the city's website and social media accounts.

Concerns voiced by residents about Buddy making cannabis enticing to children led to the decision.

"While Buddy's purpose was to educate about responsible cannabis use in the community and not make cannabis enticing to children, we understand that there are some residents that are concerned about the latter," said Nikki Booth, a spokesperson for the City of Leduc.

"As such, we've decided that the public awareness campaign will move ahead with the removal of Buddy."

The campaign is meant to get the public's attention before cannabis is legalized on Oct. 17.

It was designed to inform residents about will and won't be allowed in city limits once legalization occurs.

Buddy, wearing an officer's hat and carrying a handy clipboard of rules, debuted on the city's social media accounts last Wednesday.

"Buddy has drawn a lot of people to our website," Leduc Mayor Bob Young said Monday, before the character was removed from the campaign. "Not all of it has been good. Some people have concerns."

Some people were concerned the cute cartoon might attract the attention of children.

"They feel like we're trying to appeal to children," Young said. "But we'd never, ever be promoting or encouraging cannabis use. What we're trying to do is draw people to our website to check out our rules for responsible cannabis use."

Still considered a success

Booth said a Facebook post reached nearly 24,000 people, which led to a significant amount of traffic on the page about cannabis bylaws. Close to 30,000 people live in Leduc.

Despite Buddy's exit, Booth said she considers the campaign a success.

"People were spending quite a bit of time on our website reading our FAQs, trying to understand what was happening in terms of cannabis rules in the City of Leduc," Booth said. "So in terms of getting a conversation started and engaging people, it's definitely a positive."

Buddy was drawn in-house by a City of Leduc employee, at what Booth said was "a very, very limited cost to taxpayers."

Under Leduc bylaws, cannabis use will not be allowed in public, much like alcohol consumption.

That could change in the future. Young said it's easier to start with more restrictive rules and loosen them if necessary than to try to toughen up lax rules later.

Travis.mcewan@cbc.ca

@Travismcewancbc