City of Edmonton works to put pot plan in place with legalization looming

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Edmonton prepares for legalization of recreational pot
WATCH ABOVE: It will be uncharted territory the day recreational marijuana becomes legal in Canada. At Edmonton City Hall, the looming development is being talked about this week. Vinesh Pratap reports – Mar 14, 2017

The Trudeau government has long indicated the legalizing of recreational marijuana is imminent and now Edmonton city councillors are looking to have a pot plan in place if and when the Liberal government follows through on its pledge.

On Tuesday, Councillors talked about the potential costs the city would incur for responsibilities such as policing and bylaw enforcement when Canada’s drug laws change.

READ MORE: Why are people being arrested for pot if the Trudeau government is looking to legalize it?

“The more they define the rules as we get closer to legalization, the clearer the impacts will be on municipalities,” Mayor Don Iveson said.

City planners are working on regulations for matters such as licensing fees and for the possibility of establishments such as cannabis lounges.

READ MORE: Marijuana should be sold in separate stores with minimum age limit of 18, says federal task force

Watch below: Canadian marijuana legalization timeline.

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Anti-smoking activists are concerned about what legal marijuana could mean for the city.

“To me, the concept of allowing smoking indoors goes against those principles and against the principles of public health,” said Les Hagen with the Association for Action on Smoking and Health. “The city could put limits on those lounges and what they could look like. For example, they could just involve edibles.”

“What would be very helpful would be reassurance from senior orders of government that they’re mindful of the impacts on policing, mindful of the impacts on zoning and bylaw enforcement, which will be significant,” Iveson said.

READ MORE: Canadian marijuana legalization timeline: Dispensary raids and major announcements

The Green Room, which offers advice around medical marijuana, opened its doors in Old Strathcona late last year.

Ultimately, however, it plans to sell cannabis and is eager to see how legalization will be rolled out.

“Overregulation is definitely something that could harm the industry and could push things back into the black market which is something that I don’t think anybody wants,” said the Green Room’s Frederick Pels.

“It will take time,” Coun. Mike Nickel said of the city’s efforts to have regulations ready for any legal changes around marijuana.

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“You heard the time frame to roll some of this out is one to two years.”

City planners are also working on a cost-recovery model through which fees from regulating the industry could pay for the resources needed to enforce the rules.

Mayor Iveson also said he wants to see future taxes collected through the sale of cannabis actually reach municipalities themselves.

-with files from Vinesh Pratap.

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