Legal weed is coming, and the city wants to keep its voice in the federal government’s ear rather than see its chance to be part of the conversation go up in smoke.
As Ottawa inches toward a spring 2017 timeline to unveil legislation on the legalization of marijuana, city administration will offer a proposed advocacy position to the intergovernmental affairs committee at their meeting Thursday.
“Administration is seeking to further refine an advocacy position on a number of key themes relating to legalization, regulation and restriction of access to marijuana,” the report reads.
“While the implementation of a regulated system must include collaboration with provincial and federal governments, the city wants to preserve existing municipal authority. City administration and Federation of Canadian Municipalities continue to request regular consultation as the specific legislation and regulatory regime take shape.
“Administration recommends additional advocacy efforts focus on . . . engaging municipalities, the authority of orders of government, prohibiting or restricting residential growing, sharing federal tax revenue and giving municipalities time to develop and implement necessary local regulations.”
City councillor and committee member Gian-Carlo Carra said it’s an important conversation to be part of — the city knows legalization is coming but doesn’t yet know how that’s going to roll out or what the timeline will be when it does.
Whatever it looks like, he said, it comes with a cost to the city, and he knows where he’d like to see compensation come from.
“The feds and, potentially, the province stand to make quite a bit of money on this from tax revenues,” he said.
“The enforcement and the day-to-day issues potentially associated with this . . . is going to fall onto municipal shoulders, as so many things do.
“If there’s a possibility to share in some of the tax benefits . . . it has massive impact.”
Enforcement is also on the mind of councillor and Calgary police commission member Ward Sutherland.
“We don’t have the (detection) technology at this point when it comes to consuming marijuana and driving,” he said.
“The federal government really needs to, I think, think this out — pitch in to (an educational campaign).”
Former policeman and current councillor Sean Chu said he likewise wants to the see the time, effort and resources put into good laws, so that kids are kept away from marijuana — legal or otherwise — as much as possible.
“It’s more than just, ‘Hey, let’s make this legal.’ You have to think it through,” he said.
“Unfortunately, it looks like we’re not going to get that.
“What is going to happen is, as a city, we have to scramble to do all the background work and make everything OK.
“I think that no matter what there’s going to be hiccups. There’s going to be some issues enforcing this.”
City of Calgary proposed advocacy position highlights:
In a report to be brought before the city’s intergovernmental affairs committee Thursday, the city’s proposed advocacy position pushes for the following key issues:
- That the federal government continue to engage municipalities throughout the legalization process.
- That the federal or provincial government build a national licensing system with some flexibility to municipalities to add other licensing requirements as needed.
- That municipalities have authority over planning policy around growing and sale.
- That municipalities have authority to regulate public and private nuisance factors through bylaws.
- That residential growing be prohibited.
- That resulting tax revenues be shared between the federal, provincial and municipal governments.
- That municipalities be given adequate time to develop and implement necessary local regulations.