City readies for legal recreation weed

Red Deer city council has unanswered questions

Red Deer city council has taken a stand on the legalization of recreational marijuana but the tight timeline remains a challenge.

At Monday’s meeting, council outlined its advocacy positions to the federal and provincial governments ahead of the July 2018 roll out of legalization.

Among its positions, council will advocate for a legal age of 21, proper labelling, federal standardized THC limits; restrictions on residential growing; allocating tax revenue to treatment, crime prevention and enforcement; prohibiting smoking cannabis in public areas and create crime prevention strategies through regulation and education.

That timeline, which councillors said is a tough deadline to meet, was at the centre of the discussion.

“The greatest challenge will be the federal government timeline. The provincial governments have also said it’s unreasonable,” said Mayor Tara Veer, adding municipalities really have to wait for the province to make its policy decisions before they can develop their own legislation.

“This is the best we can do given the landscape we’re dealing with. At least we have a foundation we can advocate from.”

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes was more vocal with her uneasiness with the short timeline, saying the discussion around advocacy positions was a glimpse into the unknowns and unanswered questions with the federal changes.

“Municipalities are going to be the ones bearing the brunt of it,” she said. “We will feel the impacts of these changes to federal law. We should not be timid in pushing back the date of July 1, 2018.”

A 10-theme approach outlined what council would like to see from the coming legislation that will regulate the legal sale of recreational marijuana.

The themes are: engaging municipalities, the municipality’s role, restricting residential growing, sharing new tax revenues, providing time to develop and implement necessary local regulations, purchasing, use, legal age, safety and economic implications and opportunities.

“It will certainly be at the local level that we deal with the intended and unintended consequences,” said Veer.

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