2018 is the year recreational pot is set to be legalized in Canada. While that much is decided, not much else is in the province of Saskatchewan, which has yet to mandate a strategy.
“I really don’t feel right for me as an outgoing premier to lead that decision” said Premier Brad Wall.
Every level of government has a unique role. The federal government’s bill C-45 has passed second reading in the House of Commons.
While Saskatchewan municipalities wait to hear the province’s strategy, the City of Saskatoon will discuss an amendment to the smoking bylaw next week.
The city’s community standards director, Jo-Anne Richter, is suggesting a blanket approach to marijuana under the smoking bylaw.
“Broaden the definition of smoke to include the smoking of cannabis so that essentially where smoking tobacco is restricted, smoking cannabis would likewise be prohibited,” she said.
According to the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA) president Gordon Barnhart, municipalities are beginning to “worry” about legalization as many are waiting on guidelines from the province.
“This freight train is coming down the track,” said Barnhart.
While much remains undecided, what seems more clearly defined by the province is how the tax revenue from the sale of cannabis will be divvied.
“I don’t personally see the government giving up its space for municipal revenue,” Wall said.
25 per cent of revenue will stay with the federal government. The remainder will go to provinces and municipalities.
“The great share of the cost will be borne by the province and so we need to see how that shakes out, said Wall. “What are those additional costs for enforcement, issues around… frankly, around treatment, issues around awareness?” he questioned. “There’s been an inordinate amount of time spent by cabinet committees, by ministers, by mayors, by police services to get ready for this.”
The president of Saskatchewan urban municipalities association disagrees.
“There are going to be costs associated with this in terms of the bylaws and that would mean extra work for the police forces and that is going to cost the cities money,” said Barnhart.
Marijuana will be legal in summer 2018. Until then, the city of Saskatoon will begin writing the bylaws it can, without provincial guidance.