City of Abbotsford not ready for legal pot

City of Abbotsford not ready for legal pot

Municipalities must wait for feds, province to pass laws

The City of Abbotsford is left waiting on other levels of government before it can set its own framework for legal pot.

That’s the message heard at a meeting of the municipality’s Intergovernmental Affairs Advisory Committee on Tuesday.

Aniz Alani, the city’s director of property, risk management and legal services, gave an overview of the coming legislation from both the federal and provincial governments. He told the mayor and councillors that there are many items that must be addressed at the local level before the drug becomes legal for recreational use.

“It’s a seemingly never-ending list,” Alani said.

The city must wait for senior levels of government to pass laws before it can pass its own bylaws.

“We have to deal with the laws that are currently on the books and currently it’s illegal,” Mayor Henry Braun told The News following the meeting.

The federal government has delayed after initially promising to legalize the drug by July 1, 2018.

It’s not clear when pot will be legal, but Alani said it could be as soon as August of this year.

Once the federal and provincial governments set the framework, it will be up to local governments to work out the details of how pot sales and use will be regulated in their towns.

Braun said he is not alone in feeling unprepared to address the possible implication of legal pot.

“The majority of mayors and councillors I’ve talked to say, ‘We don’t know what to do because we haven’t see the legislation.’ ”

Councillors at the meeting expressed concerns about how use in public spaces would be regulated, as well as what, if any, restrictions may exist for users in their own home.

Coun. Brenda Falk said she was concerned that residents in apartments and townhomes would be bothered by the smell of cannabis smoke from neighbours but would have no way to stop it. She called the prospect “scary.”

Mayor Henry Braun said that it would be up to individual stratas to set their own rules around use of the drug but he anticipates they could be challenged.

“There will be constitutional issues that come out of this, I guarantee you,” he said.

Coun. Les Barkman said he was concerned about pot smoking in public areas such as parks. While the provincial government has signalled it won’t allow pot smoking anywhere cigarettes are banned, Barkman said it will be difficult to enforce such regulations.


@KelvinGawley
kelvin.gawley@abbynews.com

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