Alberta Urban Municipalities Association to vote on repealing Cannabis Act

The vote will happen at the association's annual conference, which takes place in Calgary this November

In a resolution to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), the town of Taber, Alberta is proposing the repeal of the Cannabis Act—the federal government’s marijuana legalization bill currently making it’s way through parliament.

AUMA Resolution 2017.B2, to be voted on at the upcoming annual Alberta Urban Municipalities Association 2017 Convention in Calgary from November 22-24, argues that Bill C-45, the Cannabis Act, does not properly outline the powers provincial and municipal governments have in enforcing consumption and possession laws, does not give them enough time to create policies around legalization, does not prevent young people from buying or using cannabis, and will cost municipalities money to enforce. As well, they say it lacks any mechanisms to effectively test for cannabis impairment in “safety-sensitive positions.”

Unlike the annual meeting of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM)—which is taking place this week in Vancouver and is looking at three separate proposals that support legalization while expressing concerns with similar local funding issues—the one previously mentioned AUMA proposal is the only cannabis-related resolution scheduled to be discussed.

Concerns with how cannabis legalization will impact cities and towns, which are expected to bear the bulk of enforcement issues when it comes to things like location of retail stores, public consumption and age restrictions, as well as concerns with impaired driving and impairment in the workplace, have been common in every province and territory in Canada.

In a letter sent to the federal government’s Task Force on Marijuana Legalization and Regulation last year, AUMA highlighted two key needs they had from legalization: that the federal government should engage more with cities, and that the cities get the training and support they need to manage legalization effectively. It also listed four concerns the association has with legalization: marketing and labelling, home growing, driving under the influence, and proliferation of storefronts (AUMA proposes cannabis be sold through “existing locations such post offices or pharmacies”).

“Municipalities need to have greater engagement in the licensing and inspection processes, and administrative policies and processes that provide controls and checks need to be formalized through regulations. This is important in order to ensure that minimum standards are maintained on an ongoing basis. As well, we need to formalize lines of communication between federal/provincial/municipal governments, law enforcement and other first responders, and the general public regarding grow-ops and remediation.” -AUMA

On Friday, September 15, 2017, AUMA President Lisa Holmes presented to the Standing Committee on Health in Ottawa for the panel on municipalities where she emphasized these concerns from AUMA members, reiterating what they see as the need for all three levels of government to be working together to develop the legislation, particularly since municipalities will be directly impacted by the regulation.

Holmes’s presentation also noted the committee of police representatives’ testimony that they do not feel they will be ready by July 1st, and she stressed the importance of taking the time to do this right and ensure all issues are properly addressed.

Recently, the Construction Owners Association of Alberta put out their Canadian Model for Providing a Safe Workplace, and the Alberta Human Rights Commission issued educational information relevant to employers and employees on how human rights law impacts drug and alcohol dependencies in Alberta workplaces.

The town of Taber, about 30 minutes east of Lethbridge, has about 8,500 residents and is heavily reliant on agriculture and processing, with a Roger's Sugar sugar beet processing plant and a Frito-Lay factory, as well as the oil and gas industry.

In 2015, Taber made news by passing a handful of new bylaws against swearing, yelling, spitting or littering. At press time Lift's request for comment by city hall had not been returned.

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See the full resolution below:

AUMA Resolution 2017.B2 Town of Taber Repeal the Cannabis Act

WHEREAS the Government of Canada has tabled Bill C-45, known as the Cannabis Act, to legalize the use and possession of recreational marijuana;

WHEREAS Bill C-45 (the Cannabis Act) does not adequately outline the individual powers Provincial and Municipal Governments will have in enforcing the consumption and possession of marijuana in their own boundaries;

WHEREAS Bill C-45 does not provide sufficient preventive measures from young persons (defined as 12-18 years of age) buying, possessing or consuming cannabis;

WHEREAS healthy residents, families and neighborhoods are fundamental to the effective operation and success of municipalities;

WHEREAS there is not adequately-proven technology to test for cannabis impairment in safety-sensitive positions;

WHEREAS the impairment of municipal workers and citizens constitutes a high risk liability towards the safety for all municipalities;

WHEREAS the short timeline for municipalities to create regulations may not be sufficient to create policies and regulatory strategies by July 1, 2018, creating the situation where business enterprises would have the opportunity to develop in the municipality contrary to the policy desires of Councils;

and WHEREAS the impact of Bill C-45 will result in increased operating expenditures for municipalities to enforce a new suite of regulations.

IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) lobby the Government of Canada to repeal the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45), and request that the Government of Alberta work with AUMA to advocate for the repeal of that Act.


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