Not one gram of legal cannabis has yet been sold in Quebec, but municipalities in the province are already clamouring for their share of tax revenues from its sale.
Once pot is legal, as of July 2018, the Quebec government wants more than one half of the tax revenues generated by the sale of cannabis. Quebec municipalities want one third.
Legalization will entail additional costs for municipalities, according to Alexandre Cusson, the new president of Quebec's union of municipalities (UMQ). Given that, he said, they should receive a proportional share of the proceeds.
"We think the adequate and equitable share would be one that gives a third of cannabis tax revenues to each level of government — federal, provincial and municipal," Cusson said Friday at a UMQ board meeting in Montreal.
Police training, which could cost up to $10,000 per trained police officer according to Cusson, is just one of the costs related to pot legalization for municipalities.
Legalization will also entail additional costs for urban planning, municipal courts and land use, he said.
For Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, law enforcement's preparedness is key.
"We need to make sure the police, the SPVM (Montreal police), among others, are able to manage the impacts [of cannabis legalization]," Plante said.
Leases affected by pot legalization, UMQ says
Municipal housing regulations may also have to be adapted to deal with legalization, said Cusson, who is also the mayor of Drummondville.
He gave an example: if cannabis were used in social housing where children were present, parents could be unhappy at having their children exposed to the substance. They may not be able to move elsewhere due to lack of funds.
"There are leases that have already been signed, and those leases do not refer to cannabis," he said.
It's unclear if it will be possible to reopen these leases, or if the provincial and federal laws that will be adopted will cover these types of situations.
These topics will be on the agenda on Tuesday, when the UMQ will address the subject during a parliamentary committee hearing in Quebec City.