Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) President Vicki-May Hamm issued the following statement to mark the legalization of non-medical cannabis across Canada today.
“Today marks a significant shift in how our society operates. From public safety to retail services, to transit and labour law, keeping Canadians safe and well-served in a world of legal cannabis will require significant coordination among all orders of government.
“Local governments are on the front lines of cannabis legalization. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has been helping cities and communities get ready nationwide by providing tools and engaging our various partners. We also know that keeping Canadians safe and well-served will require a clear framework for sharing the costs that come with this new policy.
“Legalization has operational and cost implications for as many as 17 municipal departments. This is why the federal government also released half of its share of cannabis excise tax revenues to provinces and territories—to support municipalities. Yet, only three provinces have revealed plans to share those funds with local governments. Too many of our members across Canada do not have any clarity on how cannabis costs will be covered through provincial revenue sharing frameworks. As the lead on cannabis legalization, the Government of Canada will need to ensure adequate revenue-sharing plans are in place and municipalities are made whole for the costs of this federal policy.
“In September 2017, the federal government also committed $81 million to help our local police services manage a reality of legal cannabis—including through training and technology to tackle drug-impaired driving. Yet as legalization day comes and goes, we are still waiting for details on how this support will flow.
“Local governments have been hard at work changing bylaws, building capacity and engaging citizens to get ready for legalization. Canadians can count on local leaders to be ready to adapt to challenges on the road ahead. One challenge we cannot tackle alone, however, is ensuring local costs are fully and sustainably covered for this new federal initiative.
“Safe and effective cannabis legalization requires collaboration across orders of government and municipalities are ready to do their part. We all need to work together to get this right.”
Vicki-May Hamm is President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Mayor of the City of Magog, Quebec. FCM is the national voice of local government, with nearly 2,000 members representing more than 90 per cent of Canada’s population.