Calgary wants more revenue from cannabis legalization

Cannabis-infused edibles will not be legal in Canada until 2019. Simon Little / Global News

As Health Canada seeks feedback on proposed federal regulations for the legalization of further forms of cannabis, the City of Calgary will use the opportunity to advocate for a better system of revenue sharing.

The federal government has committed to legalizing extracts, edibles and topical forms of cannabis by Oct. 17, 2019 and is looking for feedback on draft regulations addressing public health and public safety.

A report going to the City of Calgary’s intergovernmental affairs committee on Thursday says most of the regulations primarily focus on packaging and labeling requirements and ensuring that products won’t appeal to youth.

While a lot of the regulations are beyond municipal responsibility, the city wants the issue of revenue sharing addressed.

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The report states that responsibilities delegated to municipalities from the provincial and federal legislative changes have resulted in the need for additional resources. The funding provided from the Municipal Cannabis Transition Program offered by the Alberta government is insufficient to offset costs, the report concluded.

To the end of 2019, the city expects costs of $10.4 million related to the legalization of cannabis, while the province is only providing $3.84 million in funding.

“That’s a significant amount of dollars that Calgarians are going to have to pay for,” Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal said, “So where I am surprised is that the provincial government has not allocated the appropriate amount of revenues to cover our costs”

The increased costs could be correlated to the number of licensed stores in Calgary, the highest in the country at 24, followed by Edmonton at 11. Alberta also leads the country by a wide margin in licensed cannabis retail stores with 75 with Newfoundland has the second most stores at 25.

Chahal said the city’s entrepreneurial spirit could be why Calgary leads the country in licensed stores.

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“I think that’s why you’re seeing so many stores opening up in the city because we have great entrepreneurs who see an opportunity to create a new industry. With that comes the challenges of monitoring, enforcing all the issues that come around the legalization of cannabis”

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