Pubdate: Tue, 26 Sep 2017
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Page: A1


Mayor says share of taxes from sale of legal marijuana should go to
municipalities to cover extra policing costs

Municipalities should get a share of tax revenue collected by the
provincial government when marijuana becomes legal, says Kelowna Mayor
Colin Basran.

"We want to make sure we get our cut of the profits," Basran said
Monday from the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference in Vancouver.

If the government ultimately chooses to allow private stores to sell
pot next year, additional policing costs are likely to arise to ensure
such operations abide by all relevant rules and regulations, Basran

The government should share pot-related taxes with municipalities much
the same way it gives cities a share of gaming revenues, he said.
Funds the city receives through this program are put directly into the
policing budget.

Basran also said he expects that municipalities would retain the right
to regulate, should they choose to do so, where pot shops could set up
through zoning and bylaw mechanisms.

"We want to be able to control where these businesses could be
located," Basran said, adding such considerations could include
requiring a certain distance from schools and not allowing them in
residential areas.

On Monday, the NDP government announced a fiveweek public consultation
process on the future of cannabis.

The government wants to solicit input from residents as well as local
government, First Nations and industry on how it can best protect
children and keep roads safe after the federal government legalizes
marijuana on July 1.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said while the timeline imposed by
the federal government is tight, the public must have a chance to
propose ideas and raise concerns.

"The best public policy isn't imposed from up above," he told
reporters. "The best public policy is made when there's a sense that
people understand the questions . . . and they feel they've had a say."

The consultation process is scheduled to last until Nov. 1 to allow
the B.C. government time to draft regulations ahead of the spring
session of the legislature, which must happen in order to have a law
in place by next Canada Day, Farnworth said.

Federal legislation has yet to be finalized, but the provinces will
have the power to regulate the retail sale of marijuana and to upgrade
traffic safety laws to protect people on the roads from
cannabis-impaired drivers.

Farnworth said some elements of the provincial regulatory framework
will have to be universal, such as the distribution model and the
minimum age of consumption, but it must also give municipalities room
to manoeuvre based on the wishes of local residents. "I don't see any
reason at all why we have to have a one-size-fits-all approach in
terms of retail distribution in British Columbia," he said.

Perry Kendall, B.C.'s chief medical officer, spoke earlier Monday to
convention delegates about his work with the national task force on
legalizing and regulating marijuana,

and about the challenge of striking the right balance.

Kendall spoke of how health experts concerned about the impact of
marijuana on developing brains urge a minimum age of 25, but that kind
of policy would relegate a significant number of young users out of
reach and into the black market.

Provinces have put pressure on the federal government to push back the
July 1 timeline, echoing public health and safety concerns

raised by police agencies and youth health experts.

Ontario became the first province to release details of its plans to
regulate cannabis, saying it will impose a minimum age of 19 for
consumption, restrict sales to certain government liquor stores and
limit pot use solely to private residences.

Alberta is partially through its own public consultation, while
Quebec's wrapped up earlier this month.
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