Fort Saskatchewan: City Hazy on Future Cannabis Legalization

Article by Leanne Delong, Fort Saskatchewan Record

City hazy on future cannabis legalization

With cannabis and marijuana products proposed to be legal, there are more questions than answers as to how the Fort will be affected come Canada Day 2018.

During the June 27 regular city council meeting, the city’s senior legislative officer, Robert Stephenson provided council an update on the work being done to prepare for the legalization of cannabis. Most notably, a department-based task force will investigate legal weed’s impact on regulation, education, and consumption.

In mid-April, the Canadian Government introduced bills C-45 and C-46 in the House of Commons to legalize cannabis across the country by July 1, 2018.

“Cannabis is still illegal. It’s not legal until the bill goes through and the legislation is proclaimed and with that administration we’re moving forward, we’re reviewing these changes as we go forward and our goal is to have a more detailed package to provide council in 2018,” said Stephenson.

The impacts legalization of cannabis would have on Fort Saskatchewan include education, taxation, retail location and rules, public consumption, land use and zoning, enforcement and revising existing municipal bylaw and documents to match up with the new legislation.

With the legalization of cannabis coming within a year, the City of Fort Saskatchewan created a task force consisting of members from multiple departments and include the following monitored items:

• People Services: Occupational Health & Safety: Drug and Alcohol Policy will be reviewed and updated as necessary to reflect the changes. The Return to Work Process and modified duties are reviewed on a case by case basis and the city’s accommodation practices will be review and updated as necessary.

• Planning and Development: Co-location of other items with cannabis sales is being reviewed.An assessment of appropriate permit fees will commence once more information is known. Reviewing appropriate land use approaches in regards to zoning and how to buffer from sensitive uses. The city’s building inspector will also receive further training.

• Economic Development: Given the current information, the business licence fee should not be changed. Business licences should not be use as a disincentive, they are a useful tool to gather information. The development permit is where many issues would be more appropriately addressed.

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