Union of BC Municipalities Unanimously Vote in Cannabis Resolutions

The Union of BC Municipalities voted unanimously, yesterday, at their annual conference to pass a pair of cannabis related resolutions.

The first resolution, put forward by the town of Nelson, asked for cities to be included in any negotiations around legalization — calling on the federal government to consult and coordinate with provincial and local governments regarding decriminalization and regulation of marijuana.

“Be it resolved that UBCM request that the federal and provincial governments directly involve local government, through UBCM and FCM, in the process of establishing a regulatory approach to marijuana in Canada, while ensuring that all orders of government are granted adequate time to align and integrate regional and local regulations and practices with new federal laws,” the resolution read.

A second resolution approved at this week’s meeting came from Duncan, requesting the federal government allow cities to collect taxes coming from recreational sales.

“Be it resolved that UBCM call on the federal government to request that a portion of any future federal or provincial tax collected through marijuana sales and distribution be shared with local governments, and that the concept of tax sharing with local governments be forwarded to the task force looking into the new system of marijuana sales and distribution, for consideration,” the resolution read.

Delegates argued that regulation and enforcement for cannabis retail dispensaries will likely fall to local governments once laws change next year, “creating additional burdens on local government resources.”

“Tax sharing, in which a portion of a new or existing tax is dedicated for local government use, is one way to expand the revenue tools available to local government, while addressing the weakness of property tax in both responding to economic growth and in fairly distributing responsibility for the cost of local government services,” the resolution document stated.

Cannabis Growers of Canada research paper (The Cannabis Market in Canada and British Columbia) written by Larissa Flister forecasted that tax revenues in British Columbia are estimated at “$837 million in 2017 and growing to up to $1.56 billion by 2036.”

“More than simply raising tax revenues, legalizing cannabis is the most sensible policy alternative, both economically and in terms of public health and safety,” wrote Flister. “The current enforcement of cannabis prohibition requires substantial fiscal and organizational resources that could be used towards education, health care, and other pressing public policy goals.”

In 2015, delegates at the conference voted in a resolution which asserted that local governments held the authority to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries as well as another that requested decriminalization and research into regulation and taxation of marijuana.