The Town of Oliver is submitting a letter to the provincial government outlining its concerns over cannabis legalization and the potential extra burden on local governments. Contributed photo

Oliver calls for share of pot tax

The township is outlining concerns local governments may be overburdened by pot legalization

The Town of Oliver is calling for municipalities to receive 20 per cent of cannabis tax revenue generated after legalization.

Town hall will be sending a letter to the Province of B.C. expressing some concern over the consultation time offered for cannabis legalization and over responsibilities being downloaded to municipalities.

Mayor Ron Hovanes said the draft letter was approved by council with little debate Monday, when it came back in a second draft form. Council had ordered staff to rework the draft at an earlier meeting to include a call for a solid federal framework on the legalization.

Related: Health ministers to talk cannabis, opioids

“I don’t think it’s in the purview of a small-town municipality that we should be looking after the regulations regarding how this is going to come forward,” Hovanes said.

“If we had any response to the province and the feds on how this should be rolled out, first and foremost, it’s safeguarding the children in our community.”

On that, he said the township expects that the substance would be federally regulated and provincially dispensed, and expressed concern that dispensing and enforcing would fall down to the shoulders of local governments.

Related: Marijuana rules will be ‘a work in progress’

“The Town of Oliver is of the opinion that a “Cannabis Control Board” that is similar to the B.C. Liquor Control Board or a regulated pharmacy should be responsible for direct distribution and retail sale of cannabis,” the letter says.

“Both Liquor Control Board and regulated pharmacies are experienced with the sale of controlled substances. Implementing this model assists municipalities with regard to amendments to its Zoning Bylaw and Business License Bylaw.”

The letter also called for more time for the province to receive input on cannabis legislation, saying seven months is not long enough.

Related: Pot shops targeted despite looming legalization

It also calls for local governments to receive an “adequate share” of revenues, “especially if local governments are to assume new responsibilities and deal with increases in the administrative burdens that a provincial framework that may require local government participation.”

“Potentially local governments should receive at least 20 percent of any cannabis revenue on a per capita basis to municipalities to cover the costs of increased inspection and enforcement,” the letter says.

The township is also calling for a minimum age of 19 years to possess up to 30 grams of pot, with youth facing tickets and confiscation, similar to regulations on alcohol.

Related: B.C. marijuana dispensaries form independent group


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