Pubdate: Sat, 03 Jun 2017
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Jordan Press
Page: B1


Cities say money needed to help with costs of enforcement

The mayors of Canada's biggest cities say they need a slice of the tax
windfall from legal marijuana to cover what they describe as
significant costs associated with enforcing a signature initiative
from the federal Liberals.

They raised their concerns with cabinet ministers this week, pressing
the case that some tax revenues from sale of the drug must filter down
to cover costs associated with land-use issues, business licensing
applications and enforcement once the purchase, sale and recreational
use of the drug is no longer illegal.

The parliamentary budget officer estimated in a report last year that
sales tax revenue to federal and provincial governments combined could
be as low as $356 million and as high as $959 million in the first
year of legalization, depending on the price put on cannabis and usage.

"We're not in a position to collect any (taxes)," Edmonton Mayor Don
Iveson, chairman of the mayors' group, said in an interview this week.

"One conversation that we think is important to have is support for
local governments dealing with the costs of enforcement."

It would be up to local police to enforce impaired driving laws,
provisions about sales to minors and any necessary bylaws for
dispensaries that open up in communities. Halifax Mayor Mike Savage
said cities are asking the federal government for more details as
early as the fall about how the law will impact them.

"We also need some clarity around the law, so that we can be prepared
to deal with dispensaries, many of whom think that they, as soon as
this (bill) passes, can just open anywhere they want," Savage said.

Several mayors say they feel the Trudeau Liberals are moving at
breakneck speed, leaving them little time to prepare for the new
regime. The Liberals hope to make marijuana legal by the summer of

"The one thing that, of course, concerns me is the timing of how
quickly this is occurring, especially given that I certainly have
concerns about likely increased costs to policing," said Winnipeg
Mayor Brian Bowman.

"Depending on how it's rolled out, depending on where the revenues are
being collected and by whom could play a role in helping us address
our concerns and what we expect are going to be increasing costs to

The government's legalization bill, C-45, was being debated at second
reading in the House of Commons on Friday, blocks away from where
thousands of delegates were gathered for the annual meeting of the
Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Trudeau addressed the gathering in the morning after the official
start of the annual meeting, focusing on what local leaders describe
as an opioid epidemic in their communities.

Health officials and political leaders have been sounding the alarm
about a dramatic spike in opioid deaths across Canada - the focus of a
national summit in Ottawa last fall that pulled together experts from
across the country.

In his speech, Trudeau said governments won't rest until they turn the
tide of the crisis, pointing to the government's latest budget as
evidence of the government's interest in addressing the problem: The
budget included $110 million over five years for a national drug strategy.

"The opioid epidemic has touched the lives of countless Canadians, in
one way or another," Trudeau said.

"We must come together to address this crisis and that's why we're
working with our provincial, territorial and municipal partners to
find lasting solutions."

Later in the day, the government announced it has approved three new
supervised drug consumption sites for Toronto. In a statement, Health
Minister Jane Philpott said evidence shows such sites save lives and
decrease hospital admissions related to injection drug use.
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