The City of Colwood is calling on the provincial government to help fund some of the costs associated with the upcoming legalization of marijuana.
In a letter submitted to the province, the City expressed concern about the “downloading of responsibilities and costs associated with the legalization of non-medical cannabis,” and costs related to training, staff and the effect on RCMP services for local residents.
“We weren’t hearing anything about those extra costs that may be passed along to communities. If there’s licensing that has to be done, if we’re going to be responsible for inspections,” Mayor Carol Hamilton said.
“There could be policing costs to be incurred, not only for training purposes to be able to manage and deal with this. We’re looking for assurances that these kinds of things are being looked at when they make the rules.”
Colwood was one of many municipalities across B.C., including Kelowna and Terrace, that sent letters to the province recently, asking for 50 per cent of the provincial share of the cannabis tax sharing formula be provided to local governments.
Late last year, the federal and provincial governments struck a deal in which Ottawa committed to a 75-25 split (the province would get most of the revenue) of tax revenues from cannabis sales, which equates to one dollar per gram, or 10 per cent of the producer price, whichever is greater.
Once the deal has been finalized, it will be the province’s responsibility to determine how the revenue will be split.
“The federal and provincial governments intend to keep cannabis taxes low to support the objective of reducing illicit market activity. As such, it is expected that cannabis taxation revenues will not generate significant provincial revenues,” said Finance Minister Carole James in a response letter to the City dated March 12.
“We will be able to have more informed discussions once full details of the regulatory and taxation regimes are known and governments have more certainty in terms of expected future costs and revenues.”
Locally, Hamilton hopes the costs of regulating marijuana doesn’t fall solely on the municipality’s shoulders.
“We reiterate the fact that municipalities aren’t always the best suited to handle the extra costs as they arise, so consideration should be given for that to happen at a higher level,” she said.