B.C. cities strengthen call for bigger role in marijuana legalization

Convention delegates vote for more consultation and revenue sharing

Local politicians have cemented their desire for a bigger say in how legal marijuana will be regulated in their communities at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

The lead resolution, which passed overwhelmingly on Wednesday, focused on giving local government a more active role in how the legalization process will play out in B.C., specifically in terms of consultation and revenue sharing.

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

VIDEO: B.C. to consult public on marijuana legalization

Earlier this week, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth announced the province is asking for the public’s views on how the government should regulate the distribution and retail sales of the drug, as well as how to enforce marijuana impairment on the road.

This public consultation includes municipalities, though Farnworth said no revenue sharing agreement between the three levels of government had been reached yet.

Cities have long been concerned that increased policing and zoning costs will fall upon them once you can legally buy marijuana, without what they view as a fair share of the revenue.

Some leaders have also expressed worry over how soon marijuana will be legal. The federal Liberals, following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s popular campaign promise, have pledged to do so by July 2018.

“We at the municipal level have said, ‘Slow down, we’re not ready,’” said Ladysmith Coun. Steve Arnett at the convention.

Arnett also introduced an amendment asking for proper safeguards across all levels of government to protect children and youth.

He told delegates he wasn’t opposed to legal pot from a “reefer madness” perspective, but was speaking out of concern that edible marijuana, such as cookies, could be too attractive to kids.

“Young people aren’t always able to make informed choices,” said Arnett, who spent more than three decades as a social worker.

Those protections were important, he said, “particularly as we go to edibles that appear to be benign because they look attractive and taste good.”


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katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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