Alberta Urban Municipalities Association to vote on repealing Cannabis Act

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Courtesy of Lift Magazine

In a resolution to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), the town of Taber, Alberta is proposing the repeal of the Cannabis Act—the federal government’s marijuana legalization bill currently making it’s way through parliament.

AUMA Resolution 2017.B2, to be voted on at the upcoming annual Alberta Urban Municipalities Association 2017 Convention in Calgary from November 22-24, argues that Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, does not properly outline the powers provincial and municipal governments have in enforcing consumption and possession laws, does not give them enough time to create policies around legalization, does not prevent young people from buying or using cannabis, and will cost municipalities money to enforce. As well, they say it lacks any mechanisms to effectively test for cannabis impairment in “safety-sensitive positions.”

Unlike the annual meeting of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM)—which is taking place this week in Vancouver and is looking at three separate proposals that support legalization while expressing concerns with similar local funding issues—the one previously mentioned AUMA proposal is the only cannabis-related resolution scheduled to be discussed.

Concerns with how cannabis legalization will impact cities and towns, which are expected to bear the bulk of enforcement issues when it comes to things like location of retail stores, public consumption and age restrictions, as well as concerns with impaired driving and impairment in the workplace, have been common in every province and territory in Canada.

In a letter sent to the federal government’s Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation last year, AUMA highlighted two key needs they had from legalization: that the federal government should engage more with cities, and that the cities get the training and support they need to manage legalization effectively. It also listed four concerns the association has with legalization: marketing and labelling, home growing, driving under the influence, and proliferation of storefronts (AUMA proposes cannabis be sold through “existing locations such post offices or pharmacies”).

“Municipalities need to have greater engagement in the licensing and inspection processes, and administrative policies and processes that provide controls and checks need to be formalized through regulations. This is important in order to ensure that minimum standards are maintained on an ongoing basis. As well, we need to formalize lines of communication between federal/provincial/municipal governments, law enforcement and other first responders, and the general public regarding grow-ops and remediation.” -AUMA

On Friday, September 15, 2017, AUMA President Lisa Holmes presented to the Standing Committee on Health in Ottawa for the panel on municipalities where she emphasized these concerns from AUMA members, reiterating what they see as the need for all three levels of government to be working together to develop the legislation, particularly since municipalities will be directly impacted by the regulation.

Holmes’s presentation also noted the committee of police representatives’ testimony that they do not feel they will be ready by July 1st, and she stressed the importance of taking the time to do this right and ensure all issues are properly addressed.

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