FCM Helps Canadian Municipalities with Cannabis Legalization

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The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (“FCM”) has released the first of two reference documents developed by FCM to help municipalities across the country address the legalization of cannabis at the local level.

FCM is the national voice of municipal governments across Canada and represents more than 90% of Canada’s municipal population.  Its members include large cities, small urban and rural communities and 20 provincial and territorial municipal associations.

The first reference document notes that it is expected that municipalities are likely to be most active in the areas of zoning, business licensing, building code, municipal workforce safety and enforcement of regulations around public consumption and impaired driving.

FCM provides a suggested list of considerations and actions that municipal councils and staff may wish to start considering immediately in order to be prepared for legalization in July, 2018.  The list includes:

  • assemble a municipal working group on cannabis legalization;
  • engage with the province / territory early on;
  • seek legal advice (in light of the complicated multi-jurisdictional nature of cannabis legalization);
  • seek appropriate municipal approvals;
  • establish a timeline and work plan;
  • engage the public and other key stakeholders, including industry;
  • assess which by-laws and other municipal programs require adjustment or creation;
  • assess whether any municipal by-laws can be revised or developed immediately even if the federal / provincial / territorial regulations are not yet in place;
  • create a list of areas where the municipality cannot proceed without federal or provincial / territorial direction and authority;
  • calculate cost estimates and make a financial plan;
  • develop draft by-law amendments;
  • present amendments to Council and obtaining Council approval; and
  • public education, internal training and enforcement.

The second phase of the project, which is set to be released in the coming months, will be a more comprehensive resource aimed at providing guidance in by-law development and highlighting promising practices relating to cannabis legalization at the local level.

Check back here for a discussion of the second phase of the project once it is released, along with continuing discussion of municipal developments as they happen.

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