Marijuana Legalization Task Force Releases Report

The federal government’s Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation has released its final report, A Framework for the Legalization and Regulation of Cannabis in Canada. The report provides over 80 recommendations to guide the federal government in the creation of a new legislative framework to legalize and regulate marijuana.

While the final report provides some clarity as to the recommended path for Canada’s legalization system, it still leaves a myriad of questions to be answered that will greatly impact local governments. Of particular importance is the issue of taxation revenue sharing. A November report from the Parliamentary Budget Officer created speculation that tax revenue generated through the legalization of marijuana would be split between the provinces and federal government. The Task Force’s final report has not provided much additional clarification, only recommending that the federal and provincial governments collaborate to determine the tax regime, as well as conduct an economic analysis to establish an appropriate taxation scheme. UBCM resolution 2016-A3 requested a portion of federal or provincial tax collected through marijuana sales and distribution be shared with local governments.

It is also unclear as to the authority that local governments will have in regulating storefront retailers, although the report does recommend that the province collaborate with local governments to manage the retail process.

Local governments have also been concerned with additional costs being transferred to local authorities as a result of the legalization of marijuana. The report suggests local governments will be responsible for “oversight and approval” of personal cultivation operations, which could place additional burden on local policing and bylaw authorities, among others.

Prior to the release of the Task Force’s final report, UBCM participated in the process to legalize marijuana through conveyance of its resolutions to the Task Force, and involvement in a local government teleconference with Task Force Chair Anne McLellan. Although there are over 80 recommendations in the federal Task Force’s final report, none are binding on the federal government.

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