Local Governments, Stakeholders Discuss Cannabis Legalization

Delegates examined the potential impacts of legalization on local governments, as well as next steps in the development of a ‘made in BC’ approach during a policy session on Monday.

Session Chair and Vancouver Councillor Kerry Jang provided contextual information regarding Canada’s path to cannabis legalization thus far, including what he called “the big disappointment” – that federal legislation has not specified the role of local governments in this new system.

Without a defined role, many local representatives, including those participating in the session’s local government panel, are concerned that responsibilities may be transferred to local governments without additional resources to support them. As outlined by Councillor Jang, UBCM’s April 2017 survey showed 79% of respondents consider downloading one of their top three concerns associated with cannabis legalization. Minister Mike Farnworth, as part of his remarks, referenced these concerns by noting that legalization “cannot be an exercise in downloading.”

Dr. Perry Kendall, BC’s Provincial Health Officer and member of the federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation delivered a presentation that focussed on the consultation, research and other considerations that informed the Task Force’s Final Report. Recently introduced federal legislation (Bills C-45 & C-46) has been largely consistent with the findings of the Task Force, which spent five months consulting Canadians about a multitude of issues related to cannabis legalization.

Also presenting was Sukhbir Manhas, a partner at Young Anderson Barristers and Solicitors, who discussed the current non-medical cannabis regulation options available to local governments as they await further information regarding federal and provincial recreational cannabis frameworks.

A diverse representation of urban and rural local government elected officials concluded the session by providing unique perspectives towards cannabis legalization, highlighting the need for a flexible approach to legalization throughout the province. While panel discussion underscored the different opinions that exist across British Columbia, it also showed some similarities among communities both large and small, namely concerns about a lack of time and resources (physical and financial) and the need for appropriate compensation from other orders of government. UBCM members will vote on Special Resolution 1 later this week, seeking meaningful consultation, adequate provincial funding, sharing of tax revenues and respect for local choice, jurisdiction and authority, as it pertains to the development of a provincial cannabis framework.

Meta Navigation