Article by Betsy Powell, The Toronto Star
Mayor John Tory is taking a wait-and-see approach on what legalized pot means for Toronto, but he’s already signaled the city expects to collect a share of any tax revenue generated.
“It’s hard to operate in a vacuum where you don’t know the basic parameters that will be set out by the federal government,” Tory said Thursday hours before Ottawa unveiled its legislation to make marijuana legal as early as July 1, 2018.
The federal government announced Thursday it is leaving it up to each province to decide where and how marijuana will be sold and regulated. The proposed law will require buyers to be at least 18, though some provinces can set a higher minimum.
The mayor said while he has not yet lobbied for a piece of the marijuana revenues, Toronto will be entitled to reap some of the taxes collected because it, like other cities, will inherit enforcement and other costs.
As more details emerge, the city will indicate “not only do we want some share of the revenues but we want to make sure, even if we don’t get that, that the costs imposed upon us in terms of policing and other things are in some way taken away of and accommodated,” Tory said.
“It wouldn’t be fair to have happen yet again, which happens almost daily around here, that the other governments are happy to pass off responsibilities to us to carry out services and do things and not pass off any of the money that goes with it.”
City licensing officials, meanwhile, said it is business as usual when it comes to trying to shut down illegal pot dispensaries that began proliferating around the city last year. Police and bylaw enforcement officers have laid hundreds of criminal and zoning violations against landlords, owners and staff.