Duncan, Other B.C. Cities Seek Share Of Taxes Collected On Marijuana Sales

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Vancouver – B.C. municipalities are appealing for a share of future taxes to help cover the costs of regulating pot dispensaries, as marijuana looks set to become legal in Canada by next spring.

The cities of Duncan, Nelson and Prince George have each put forward resolutions to the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention next month, suggesting that the UBCM petition the federal government to provide local governments with a portion of future federal or provincial tax collected through marijuana sales and distribution.

Duncan’s resolution suggests the tax-sharing concept be forwarded to the federal task force set up to design the new regulatory framework for marijuana.

“We want to make sure there aren’t negative impacts for municipalities. Different communities are dealing with it in different ways. It’s quite a mess out there right now,” Duncan Mayor Phil Kent said.

“If they’re going to allow storefront-type dispensaries, there’s going to be a competitive clamouring for space – and we would have to decide where they go. We want to be part of the conversation. So if they have a framework that affects us, they should be providing some revenue to support that.”

B.C.’s municipal politicians voted at their 2012 convention to lobby Ottawa to decriminalize pot and study the benefits of taxing and regulating cannabis.

A year later, the former Conservative government decided to centralize Health Canada-licensed medical marijuana, which led to a proliferation of illegal pot shops across the province. Vancouver and Victoria have taken steps to license and regulate dispensaries, while such municipalities as Duncan and the North Vancouver District have prohibited them.

Now, with legalization of marijuana looming, municipalities say they expect to see a surge in pot-shop requests and want to ensure regulations are in place.

Nelson Mayor Deb Kozak said legalized marijuana in the U.S. brings in millions of dollars in revenue that could help municipalities, which have limited options to raise tax dollars. Her city’s resolution suggests there would be savings in reduced enforcement by legalizing marijuana.

“We’re not asking for more than our fair share, just to be considered,” she said. “To me, it’s mind-boggling how much money is being realized in Colorado and in the state of Washington, too.”

Politicians say they have no idea how much money should be apportioned to local governments, saying it will depend on the size of the market, and how the system is designed.

If the pot is sold in drugstores, for instance, it would be highly regulated, Kent said. If it’s sold in storefronts, that would require more enforcement by local municipalities. The regulation and enforcement for medicinal marijuana dispensaries also likely will fall to the local government once the law changes.

Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang said marijuana tax revenue could be used to ensure the pot is kept away from children or put into education campaigns to help people manage pain without medication.

“We still have to administer what new federal laws come out,” Jang said. “It’s going to mean more inspections on our part. If they want us to do anything with it, they’re going to provide some funding.”

New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Coté said it would be only be fair for senior governments to share revenue from marijuana sales, if only to recognize the additional costs that cities would bear for bylaw officers.

“We haven’t made a direct ask, but it’s something cities like New Westminster and many communities across Canada would support,” Coté said.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Duncan, Other B.C. Cities Seek Share Of Taxes Collected On Marijuana Sales
Author: Kelly Sinoski
Contact: 250-380-5211
Photo Credit: Bruce Stotesbury
Website: Times Colonist