A cashier rings up a recreational marijuana purchase in Nevada, where it has been legalized. (AP Photo/John Locher)

B.C. cities want more money, and more talk, on legal pot

A Union of B.C. Municipalities resolution says municipalities want help enforcing marijuana rules

With the federal government doubling down on promise to legalize pot by Canada Day 2018, B.C. cities want to make sure they’re ready.

In their lead resolution, to be debated at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention in Vancouver Sept. 27, the UBCM executive is asking for federal and provincial governments to consult, share revenue and respect local government jurisdiction.

Legalizing marijuana was a key election promise for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has reiterated his commitment to the cause. Two bills have since been tabled in the House of Commons; Bill C-45, which when passed would legalize cannabis, and Bill C-46, which would strengthen drug-impaired driving laws.

READ: Battle over future of legal marijuana in B.C. just starting

A federal task force came came out with a list of recommendations in late 2016. Those recommendations included selling marijuana in separate retail store, rather than with alcohol or tobacco, four plants up to 100 cm tall themselves for personal use and a 30-gram limit for personal possession.

In early 2017, Bill Blair, a Toronto police chief turned parliamentary secretary to the justice minister, went on a cross-country tour to ask municipalities, educators and police about their views on Trudeau’s legalization plans. That feedback, he noted, would go back to Ottawa to help shape how legal pot will look in Canada.

READ: Feds stop by Mission, Abbotsford to talk marijuana legalization

For its part, B.C. has kept its options for regulating marijuana open.

Going into meetings with federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and provincial ministers, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said he was focused on distribution and pricing.

“Distribution is key to that, whether you have a central distribution location, for example the Liquor Distribution Branch, or multiple distribution options,” Farnworth said.

“When [Finance Minister] Carole James and myself were down in Washington and Oregon, one thing that was very clear is that you cannot set the tax rate so high that it encourages the black market.”

Municipal governments have expressed concerns on how much of that tax revenue will trickle down into their own coffers.

A UBCM survey of 57 local government noted that “arguably the most cited overarching concern was the potential for a transfer of responsibilities to local governments without accompanying funding from other orders of government.”

The resolution asks the federal government ensure that some of the tax money from legal pot go local governments. That comes amidst worries raised by cities that their police departments, which already take up 30 per cent on average of municipal budgets, will bear the burden of any increased enforcement.

Much of the worry appears to come from what municipalities see as a lack of communication. Just over four-fifths of respondents said that they had yet to participate in any formal consultation process.

Although the province issues a formal response to all UBCM resolutions, they do not have any binding authority.

– with files from Tom Fletcher and The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Site C dam goes ahead, cost up to $10.7 billion

Premier John Horgan approves completion of B.C.’s costliest project

Saanich resident throws shade on tree project

The chair of a committee looking to turn Shelbourne Street into a… Continue reading

Octogenerian to start New Year on flight adventure in Central America

Cordova Bay’s Bob Vance helped raise $425,000 for Hope Air

Christmas decorations a labour of love for Colwood residents

Home has close to 100 inflatables on display until January

Esquimalt’s Pyjama Prance tours Township on a frosty morning

Third annual event sees largest turnout yet, raises $1,738 for Rainbow Kitchen

VIDEO: B.C. women’s curling teams converge on Hope club

Weekend-long tournament hosts groups from around the province

Site C decision coming Monday

Premier John Horgan to announce fate of dam project at B.C. legislature

HOMEFINDER: Victoria condo project offers investment opportunity

Below market prices at Vivid at The Yates appealed to young Victoria couple

Photos captures magic of Christmas past in Saanich

The two boys wore black slacks, the girl, perhaps their sister, a… Continue reading

Hanukkah lights up December

For David Blades, Hanukkah is a three-letter word: fun. “We play dreidel,… Continue reading

Red Scorpion associates cuffed in drug-trafficking bust

Kamloops RCMP lay charges in connection to Red Scorpion drug trafficking ring

BC Ferries adds extra sailings for Christmas

More than 175 sailings are being added, including 130 between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island

Pandora Avenue downtown Victoria block closed Tuesday to allow removal of crane

Full day closure to vehicles and cyclists, but pedestrians allowed to use south side

Emergency response ‘well executed’ in B.C. carbon monoxide poisoning

Emergency Health Services talks about how first responders dealt with this ‘mass casualty event’

Most Read