Holmes asks feds to slow down pot legalization

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Outgoing Morinville Mayor Lisa Holmes is asking the federal government to slow down the timeline for the legalization of marijuana.

Holmes travelled to Ottawa to testify in front of the Standing Committee on Health on behalf of Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA).

“To be frank, with this issue we do not feel at AUMA like the municipalities are being treated as an equal partner at the planning table and it is imperative that all three levels of government should be given appropriate time and support in order to prepare all of the required bylaws and regulations that we are each responsible for,” Holmes said.

Holmes said that AUMA surveyed the municipalities in the province about marijuana legalization and the number one concern that local government had was public safety.

Holmes said that municipalities are concerned with funding issues as well as enforcement. She said that small communities will struggle to come up with the funds to train their local police and RCMP detachments to handle legalization.

The AUMA president said that she would like to see funding made available by the federal government to offset the local costs associated with legalization.

St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse also said that marijuana legalization will not be a financial boon to local governments.

“What we don’t have is revenue coming in to the municipality. That is what is going to be a real challenge in this. Municipalities are going to be downloaded with issues without any revenue source,” Crouse said.

Crouse said that in St. Albert no work has gone into crafting any policy for the upcoming legalization.

“We have done nothing. Zero,” Crouse said.

St. Albert is not alone. According to Holmes, 96 per cent of Alberta municipalities have done no work towards preparing for marijuana legalization. The work that has been done has just extended the local smoking bylaws.

Crouse said that this will be a big issue on the plate of the new council. They will have to make decisions about new bylaws and he is not sure if there is any money in the budget set aside to go towards issues that relate to marijuana legislation.

Last week Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley announced that they will roll out their plan for pot in the next couple of weeks.

The federal government plans to make cannabis legal by July 2018.

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Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.