The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association and Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities are urging municipal representatives across Saskatchewan to prepare for the legalization of cannabis.
Both SUMA and SARM were among organizations across the country that worked with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to research and develop an informational guide to legalization. The federal government is expected to make cannabis legal in Canada in the coming months, and both SUMA and SARM are urging municipalities to be prepared.
“It’s still unclear somewhat as to what our roles are going to be,” SUMA President Gordon Barnhart told paNOW. "There is a wee bit of time, and that's why the guidelines have come out now, is to try and encourage the municipalities to get ready, to put their bylaws in place, or to assess at least where they need bylaws and what they should be."
Barnhart said many municipalities are concerned about how to effectively monitor and enforce regulations around legal cannabis. Municipalities and communities are interested in knowing more about the rules around workplace usage, he said, especially those that have employees operating heavy machinery.
“It puts into a whole new context going out for a smoke break,” he added.
SARM president Ray Orb said a number of their members are still assessing what the rules around legalization will be before developing their own policies.
“I think a lot of our members are just kind of waiting to see how this is going to play out,” Orb said. “The legalization date has been pushed back a little bit, and we’d be really surprised if this is all in place by July 1.”
The Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization includes information on everything from land use management, business licensing, and enforcement, to regulations around both public consumption and workplace usage. The guide also calls for municipalities to receive their fair share of excise taxes from the sale of cannabis and cannabis products once legalization comes into effect.
Orb said the guide is a good start for municipalities, as they begin to develop their own policies around cannabis. Municipalities will also have an opportunity to learn more and ask questions at SARM district meetings, Orb added, which will be held in communities around the province later this spring.
“We’re getting a better understanding of what needs to be done and I think that’s why this framework was developed,” Orb said. "It’s a tight timeline. Municipalities need to start working on this sooner rather than later.”
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