Municipalities worried Sask. is lagging on pot legalization
SUMA says province is holding up municipal planning
The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association is urging the provincial government to reveal its plans for regulating marijuana, saying municipalities can't prepare for the change until they know the provincial approach.
SUMA issued a news release Tuesday calling on the province to start consulting and provide a legislative framework.
President Gordon Barnhart said municipalities are on the front lines of controlling cannabis production, sales and consumption.
"Municipalities have to worry about where they will allow cannabis producers and retailers to set up shop, and how we will enforce bylaws on buildings, production, and consumption," said Barnhart.
"We can't even begin some of that work until we know what kind of regulatory system the province will put in place."
He said municipalities expressed their concern during seven regional meetings two weeks ago.
Wall says review underway
Premier Brad Wall said in his 2017 throne speech last week that the provincial government was in the midst of a review process that includes an online public consultation. So far he said it has received almost 35,000 responses.
Wall said the review is guided by four objectives: preventing the growth of the underground marijuana market, restricting access to minors, ensuring road and workplace safety and protecting public health.
But Barnhart suggested Saskatchewan is lagging behind other provinces.
"Already, I'm hearing from members who have producers and retailers interested in their communities," said Barnhart.
"July 1, 2018 will be here before we know it — whether we are ready or not."
SUMA wants to share tax profits
SUMA wants the legislation to include provisions for some tax profits to go to municipalities to help pay for enforcement.
Premier Brad Wall has previously said he thinks money brought in through taxes should go towards education and preventing impaired driving, but not to mayors.
His government has pushed to delay the date of legalization but the federal government has maintained the July 1, 2018 deadline.
With eight months until the planned change, Barnhart said the province needs to act now.
"We're just really saying, let's have consultations, let's make sure that we meet these deadlines that seem to be looming, and time goes by quicker than we realize," said Barnhart.