Montreal seeks 3rd of future tax revenue from cannabis, may OK weed use at tam-tams

The Projet Montréal administration says it welcomes Quebec's law on the legalization of cannabis and wants to make sure the city gets its fair share of the revenue pie.

Coun. Robert Beaudry says city taking 'public health approach, not public security'

Montreal would have to make an exception to Quebec's proposed legislation in order to allow marijuana at public events, including the tam-tams. Weed has long been tolerated at the foot of Mont-Royal, where the tam-tams are held every Sunday when the weather is fine.

The Projet Montréal administration says Montreal welcomes Quebec's proposed legislation on the legalization of cannabis and wants to make sure the city gets its fair share of the revenue pie.

Montreal is seeking a third of any tax revenues from the sale of cannabis products on its territory. Under its proposal, the other two-thirds would be split between the provincial and federal governments. 

Those recommendations are contained in the city's brief to the provincial government, tabled at a meeting of Montreal's executive committee Wednesday.

"It's cities that are going to be shouldering most of the management of cannabis legislation," said Coun. Robert Beaudry, a member of the city's consultation committee on the legalization of cannabis, which is to take effect in July.

Among new costs the city will incur are those associated with the hiring of as many as 50 additional police officers and an estimated $4 million to $9 million in training firefighters and other civil security workers, Beaudry said.

Those cost estimates are contained in another report from the accounting firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, commissioned by the city.

Montreal is asking the provincial government to set aside a third of tax revenue to go back to the city for cannabis products sold on its territory. (Matt Kwong/CBC)

No plan to ban weed at all outdoor events

Generally, the report supports the province's plan to enforce the same rules for using cannabis in public as those established for the use of tobacco.

However, the city wants some leeway to make its own rules when it comes to outdoor concerts and festivals.

Beaudry cited the Sunday tam-tams in Mount Royal Park — where the presence of weed has long been tolerated — as an example of an outdoor event at which the city may not prohibit smoking cannabis.

"I don't think it would be appropriate to ban it at the tam-tams, knowing its history," he said. 

Projet Montréal Coun. Robert Beaudry said the city is taking a public health approach, not a public security approach, to the pending change to marijuana's legal status. (Radio-Canada)

But at more family-oriented festivals such as Montreal's Fête des neiges, "it may not necessarily be appropriate."

The city agrees with the government's proposed ban on using cannabis while behind the wheel, however it is seeking clarity on how that would be applied.

Beaudry said the city is taking a "public health approach, and not a public security approach."

"That flexibility would allow us to avoid stigmatizing people and to [make decisions] quickly," he said.

With files from Radio-Canada's Julie Marceau and CBC reporter Lauren McCallum