With the legalization of recreational marijuana use on the horizon, many are wondering what the impacts will be on municipalities. To that end, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities recently released a set of guidelines for municipalities and member organizations, on some of the issues which may come up. The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association along with the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities are members of the FCM.

Gordon Barnhart is the president of SUMA. He explained the idea of the guidelines is to cover a number of topics.

“We felt, SUMA felt, and SARM and FCM, it was important to have some guidelines in place to make sure our members are getting ready for this,” Barnhart explained. “Even to prepare for some of the things that we’re not even expecting right now.”

One aspect many of the municipalities are preparing for is the taxation process. There will be an excise tax applied at the point of purchase, with 75 percent of the tax going to the provinces, to be shared with municipalities, and the remainder to the federal government. Barnhart elaborated the taxation process, with the province saying they will wait for a year to see how the costs are adding up, then looking to see how the money will be divvied up with municipalities.

“Our hope would be that we would get 25 out of that 75, but time will tell what the costs are.”

For those municipalities which won’t be getting a retail outlet, Barnhart is cautioning the legalization will still have an impact on them. They will be involved with the enforcement, either through their local police force, or the RCMP. This could add an additional impact, according to Barnhart, and communities should keep track of their costs.

The legalization of recreational marijuana was originally planned to happen by July 1st of this year, but it now appears it could be closer to the fall, as the bill is still before the Senate.

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