Each level of government will have its own roles in the legalization process. While federal and provincial regulations will be put in place, the Town through its own processes will set out to determine how, where, when and by whom cannabis will be possessed, sold and consumed within the Town of Innisfail. Stakeholders, through public participation, will play a vital role in determining this.
The federal government in April 2017 tabled Bill C-45: The Cannabis Act, proposing a "strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of cannabis across Canada." The following associated goals were identified:
- Restrict youth access to cannabis
- Protect young people from promotion or enticements to use cannabis
- Deter and reduce criminal activity by imposing serious criminal penalties for those breaking the law, especially those who import, export or provide cannabis to youth
- Protect public health through strict product safety and quality requirements
- Reduce the burden on the criminal justice system
- Provide for the legal production of cannabis to reduce illegal activities
- Allow adults to possess and access regulated, quality controlled legal cannabis
- Enhance public awareness of the health risks associated with cannabis
It was indicated that the current program for accessing cannabis for medical purposes would continue under the new Act, and that cannabis would remain illegal until the proposed Cannabis Act was brought into force.
The Alberta government subsequently developed the Alberta Cannabis Framework, indicating how the province intended to achieve the following policy objectives:
- Keeping cannabis out of the hands of children and youth
- Protecting safety on roads, in workplaces and in public spaces
- Protecting public health
- Limiting the illegal market for cannabis.
On Nov. 30, 2017, Bill 26: An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis was passed, to "empower elements of the framework through legislation, which are largely in the form of amendments to the Gaming and Liquor Act."
What is the Town's role in the legalization of cannabis?
The federal government outlines municipalities as being "key partners in supporting the implementation of the proposed legislation":
"It is anticipated that municipalities will work closely with their respective provincial or territorial governments to support the oversight and regulation of cannabis distribution and sales once the Cannabis Act comes into force. It is also anticipated that municipalities will play an important role in enforcing local zoning and density bylaws, building standards, and matters related to the minimum age of purchase, personal cultivation, personal possession limits, smoking restrictions, and public nuisance complaints. These will be enforces through municipal bylaw, health and safety inspectors and police."
Municipalities will have the ability to adjust certain rules to be either more or less restrictive than those imposed by federal and provincial levels of government.
Through the process, the Town will consider bylaw amendments as they relate to:
- Sale (retail) locations and potential setbacks (from schools, other retailers, etc.)
- Consumption areas/locations
- Business operating hours
- Personal cultivation
- Other aspects of legalization that fall under municipal jurisdiction
What are federal and provincial governments' roles in the legalization of cannabis?
The Alberta government provides the following summary of federal, provincial and municipal roles in the legalization of cannabis: