Towns and cities across Saskatchewan will follow a federal framework as they prepare to navigate the hazy task of marijuana legalization.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has launched a guide aimed at helping local governments with overcoming challenges and creating regulations once cannabis is legal. The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities say they plan to follow the guide in our province.
‘The whole point of this cooperative effort with FCM, SUMA and SARM is to try and make sure that we’re educating our members, the municipalities across this province, on what kind of legislation are we going to have in order to be ready for when that legislation comes into effect.” Gordon Barnhart, President of SUMA, said.
The guide shows municipalities will need to focus on changes to zoning, land-use bylaws, business licencing, and smoking bylaws to include legal marijuana.
“None of us have lived in a country where cannabis has been fully legalized,” Barnhart said. “So it’s something that we’re having to, I wouldn’t say experiment with, but we’re trying our very best to make sure that we’re ready.”
The provinces and territories are developing their own set of guidelines for when marijuana is legal, including where cannabis can be produced, sold and consumed. In Saskatchewan, the legal age for consumption is 19, and a certain amount of business licenses have been given to municipalities. Saskatoon leads the province with seven, followed by Regina with six.
“The province has designated a set number of places that (cannabis) will be sold,” Barnhart said. “But now it will be up to the municipalities to say ‘well it can’t be this close to a school, or a rec centre’ or whatever it might be. So this is the type of things that this guideline will help the municipalities prepare.”
According to the guide, marijuana production and developing regulations around it will be the most challenging concern for municipalities. The guide says that public consultation will be needed, and that home cultivation of cannabis has the potential to generate the most complaints.
“It’s going to take a concerted effort from all levels of government to make this work, and municipalities are willing partners in ensuring that Canadians will be safe and well-served throughout this process.” Jim Gerbasi, President of FCM said in a release.
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