By Cole Parkinson
With the legalization of cannabis scheduled to arrive next summer, certain municipalities around the province are hoping to slow down the process.
The Municipal District of Taber is one of the municipalities who are trying to slow down the Canadian government’s push for legalization as the date comes near.
The Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) held their 2017 fall convention in November and the M.D. made a motion to try and slow down the legalization process of cannabis.
“I guess really what it was is in somewhat of support of what the town was doing. It was a resolution that the M.D. put forward and we’re not really here to argue whether or not cannabis should or shouldn’t be legalized. I think the resolution was more about slowing it down to make sure we have processes in place, make sure we have the laws in place, make sure we have the proper equipment to detect impairment. It just seems to be getting shoved through awful fast and I guess the question is what’s the hurry? Let’s slow it down a bit and make sure it’s done right,” said Brian Brewin, reeve for the M.D. of Taber.
While the AAMDC motion was passed, the Town of Taber motion at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) convention was defeated by a large majority.
The two motions were similar in some instances but the AUMA motion was aimed to completely stop the legalization where the AAMDC motion was hoping to slow it down to get a better understanding.
The AUMA motion was presented as “the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) lobby the Government of Canada to repeal the Cannabis Act (Bill C-45), and request that the Government of Alberta work with AUMA to advocate for the repeal of that Act” while the AAMDC states “that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties advocate that the Government of Alberta oppose the legalization of cannabis for recreational use in the Province of Alberta until a complete understanding of the implications that the legalization of cannabis will have on the health of individuals and on community safety is publicly available.”
With the split in the two organizations, Brewin was surprised one received a large degree of support while the other didn’t.
“I think it was 68 per cent in favour which is ironic because I believe AUMA, which was a similar resolution, was the exact opposite at 68 per cent opposed,” said Brewin. “I really don’t know, I was as surprised as everyone.”
The M.D. weren’t the only municipality in the area who have expressed their concern about the rate of approaching legalization, as the Town of Vauxhall also stated their support for pushing the date back at the AUMA convention.
Brewin realizes legalization will come at some point but he just wishes the government had everything in place before that date comes.
“I don’t care if it’s a year or 10 years, I’m more wanting to make sure the proper processes are in place before it gets legalized. Let’s make sure we have a way of testing for impairment and keeping it out of the hands of youth,” said Brewin.
Another of the big concerns is the safety of the public on the road from impaired drivers who smoke and then drive.
The necessary training for law enforcement is another point they have been trying to hammer home as they don’t feel they have the tools yet to be able to confidently pick out drug impaired drivers.
In terms of the M.D. they have a concern with the legality of having it in the workplace, especially since a lot of their employees are on the roads using heavy machinery.
“I guess it’s really the unknown to be honest with you. We really don’t know what the laws are going to say or what abilities we have. What are going to be the controls in the workplace? Is somebody going to be allowed to have it in their workplace because it’s legal? As a municipality that has graders and lots of equipment out on the road,” said Brewin. “We just want to make sure the proper regulations are in place before this is implemented. It’s more about safety than anything.”