Alberta prepared for cannabis legalization but AUMA says municipalities not getting enough financial help

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by Morinville News Staff

With cannabis legalization taking place Oct. 17, the Government of Alberta says it is confident the province is ready after 18 months of preparation. The government believes its system keeps cannabis out of the hands of children, keeps profits away from criminals, and protects Albertans on roadways, workplaces and in public spaces.

“This is a big shift for our province and country, but it’s one that Alberta has prepared for over the last 18 months, and we are ready,” said Joe Ceci, President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance. “We are managing and mitigating risks around cannabis legalization in our province, and all Albertans should have confidence that public health and safety remain a top priority.”

But while the government says it is keeping cannabis out of the hands of children, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) is saying they are keeping cannabis revenue out of the hands of municipalities.

As part of cannabis legalization Alberta is providing $11.2 million in funding over two years to municipalities over 5000 in population through a grant to offset additional costs of cannabis legalization, particularly legalization-related enforcement and other implementation costs.

The AUMA says Albertans are on the hook to cover the cost of cannabis legalization in their community because the transition fund leaves 215 urban municipalities footing the bill while 52 are eligible for some of the funding.

“We are extremely disappointed with this announcement,” said Alberta Urban Municipalities Association President Barry Morishita. “Hundreds of Alberta communities are being forced to choose between hiking property taxes or putting public safety at risk and that is unacceptable. This ongoing lack of meaningful consultation from the provincial government has resulted in the province not fully comprehending the impact cannabis legalization will have across Alberta.”

The AUMA has previously advocated that municipalities should receive a fair share of the province’s excise tax revenues.

The province’s new MCTP will allow municipalities to recoup for costs directly related to cannabis legalization, including land use bylaws and permitting; education and marketing regarding local cannabis rules.

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