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Published on Thursday, July 13, 2017

Oakville worries pot legalization will raise costs

Council calls on Ottawa to fund costs of pot legalization

Oakville worries pot legalization will raise costs
Town staff foresee costs in legalizing marijuana
By Nathan Howes, Oakville Beaver

With the federal government proposing to legalize marijuana by July 2018, the Town of Oakville is looking for clear direction from Ottawa and Queen’s Park on local regulation.

Town Council passed a resolution July 10 calling for more engagement with the feds and Province on the development and execution of the marijuana legalization framework.

The Town is asking for guidelines and ongoing communication to address local concerns such as where retail marijuana dispensaries would be located, limits on how many can set up shop and their proximity to schools, daycares and residential neighbourhoods.

Oakville wants regulation of personal production of marijuana and related products, citing safety of producers and the public.

Other areas that need guidelines include enforcement and compliance with health and safety requirements.

The Town also wants compensation for costs it may incur as a result of enforcement.

Bill C-45, an act respecting cannabis and to amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Criminal Code and other acts, also known as the Cannabis Act, was introduced in the House of Commons earlier this year and is a legal framework to provide recreational access to cannabis and to control/regulate its production, distribution, sale and possession across Canada.

Marijuana will remain illegal until the bill passes — likely in July 2018.

Council heard from Nadia Chandra, assistant Town Solicitor, that Town staff have reviewed the bill and believe primary consideration should be given to the creation of a provincial enterprise established to manage sale and distribution of marijuana in Ontario.

“Although the federal government has introduced the legislation to legalize access, no details have been provided on how it will be regulated by the various levels of government,” said Chandra.

She said concerns have been raised over storefront operations, or dispensaries, selling marijuana, which aren’t licensed by Health Canada, because of their close proximity to “sensitive land uses and each other.”

“The proposed Cannabis Act does not outline conditions or requirements for provinces as to types of retail outlets, retails model or distribution system,” said Chandra, noting the Province has approximately 12 months to form its own legislation and regulations.

“No decisions have been made by the Province in it considering the full range of options, which may include a provincial control model, private businesses licensed by the Province or a mixed model.”

The Province is working on implementation through ongoing discussions with the AMO (Association of Municipalities of Ontario).

Representatives from the Town’s Legal Department and Municipal Enforcement Services joined AMO’s Marijuana Task Force.

AMO is calling for municipal licensing of growers and retailers of marijuana to control location, number and proximity of businesses to schools, daycares, and residential neighbourhoods.

Town staff believe AMO’s approach will require significant new municipal resources.

“If municipalities are tasked with regulating storefront marijuana businesses, regulations will need to consider issues such as nuisance from odours affecting neighbouring businesses or other residents, safety of patrons, as well as enforcement staff, security, location and possibly caps on the number of these businesses,” said Chandra.

Revenue-sharing with municipalities could help offset costs, Chandra said, but noted local issues arising from marijuana legalization will involve numerous Town departments.

Public consultation would also be required prior to any change in municipal regulations.

“Staff is concerned the review consultation and approval process required for municipal zoning and licensing regulations would not be possible to implement by July 2018,” said Chandra.
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Author: Mayor Rob Burton

Categories: News




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