Update on Marijuana Legalization

UBCM has met with Bill Blair, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General, to discuss the federal government initiative to legalize and regulate marijuana. In June 2016, Blair was tasked with overseeing the federal Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation. 

Mr. Blair conveyed the federal government’s next steps in the legalization process, including the impending legislation, which he described as “imminent”. In particular, Blair discussed the necessity for communication between all three orders or government, as well as the need to provide local governments the resources they need to manage responsibilities under the regime for legalized marijuana.

As part of the Task Force’s final report, it was recommended that local governments bear responsibility for oversight and approval of personal cultivation operations. During the meeting with Mr. Blair, there was discussion around this issue and the difficulty many local governments would have in assuming this responsibility due to the burden placed on bylaw and law enforcement from inspections, licensing, oversight, and hazards (e.g. fire and building code violations).

UBCM representatives Councillor Kerry Jang and Mayor Wayne Baldwin expressed concern with the lack of a local government voice at the table during the federal government’s process to develop legislation. Local governments are wary of potential downloads in areas such as enforcement, oversight and approval, licensing and bylaw duties. UBCM asked that the Federal Government provide direction to the provinces and territories to ensure that local government is adequately consulted with regard to distribution and sale.

Mr. Blair, referencing his decades of experience in as a city police chief, expressed a desire to support local governments. He noted that provinces and territories have been told that transferring their responsibilities to local governments does not provide a quick solution when it comes to successfully managing distribution and sale. Blair also discussed providing affordable technology and training for law enforcement agencies.

Background

Following the February 2017 Executive meeting, UBCM requested meetings with several key federal and provincial politicians to discuss local government concerns related to the legalization and regulation of marijuana. UBCM has been actively advocating for local government interests through federal meetings, collaboration with FCM, and a recently released local government survey, which all BC local governments are encouraged to complete prior to April 28, 2017.

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