Abbotsford Councilor On Legalization Of Cannabis & Local Government

Abbotsford – Abbotsford City Councilor Dave Loewen took to Linked In for an Op/Ed piece on how the legalization of pot in his town , will have an impact, pro and con.

Loewen will run for a fifth term as Abbotsford Councilor in the fall.

The link to his Linked In blog is here.

Of all the challenges local governments will face in the next years, this issue may be the most complex. While medical cannabis has been legally available for awhile, the legalization of retail cannabis presents a whole new list of hurdles to navigate. At this point, local governments know little more than that on October 20th, sale of retail cannabis will be legal.

Yet to be determined will be issues related to:

Land use management – Location and scale of commercial cultivation & processing; Location and density of retail facilities; and, personal cultivation.

Business regulation – Retail and Commercial regulations and their enforcement;

Public consumption – Provincial and municipal smoking guidelines; Public health and welfare; Advertising and signage

The Workplace – Safe municipal workplace; Zero-tolerance policies; Policies and testing; Existing medical cannabis regime; Employer’s duty to accommodate

Enforcement – Building code and bylaw enforcement; Nuisance bylaws; Potential liability; Enforcement tools

A variety of sources, including the Police Chiefs of BC and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities are suggesting, through their own analyses, that the burden on local governments, both in terms of financial and human resources, will be significant. Will property taxpayers be left with that bill, or will provincial and federal dollars be allocated for it?

There appears to be a perception among the general public that the transition to the legalization of cannabis is straightforward; some even argue that local government should “butt out”. This will be far from straightforward or simple. To that end, the City of Abbotsford is presently polling the public to garner any advice or insights that may be helpful in this transition. Because of the position Abbotsford has taken with regard to illegal sales of cannabis, we are told that our city is in a “good position” relative to some other municipalities, to introduce legal retail of cannabis in Abbotsford on October 20th.

The FVN story in the Abbotsford on line marijuana discussion is here.

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