WINNIPEG, MB – The City of Winnipeg is preparing for the legalization of marijuana in Canada by establishing a "Cannabis Coordination Committee. The committee will prioritize and focus the city's efforts.
“The federal government appears intent to follow through on their commitment to legalize cannabis later this summer,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “The legalization of cannabis represents one of the most significant legal, social, and economic policy changes our country has engaged in since prohibition. As a city, we need to focus and prioritize our efforts to ensure we are administratively prepared for this new reality, a reality that is now only six months away.”
Mayor Bowman stressed the magnitude of the federal government policy change. “With this change later this summer, we need to recognize that Canada will be a different country and we need to be prepared for that,” said Mayor Bowman.
The Cannabis Coordination Committee will be tasked with identifying city-related opportunities and challenges as they relate to the legalization of cannabis. It will engage with all members of council and provide high level guidance to the Public Service on the regulation and policy development the City of Winnipeg will need to have in place for the sale, distribution and consumption of cannabis.
The Committee will be led by the Acting Deputy Mayor and three members of Executive Policy Committee (EPC) who will report back to EPC with recommendations, members will include:
Councillor Matt Allard (Acting Deputy Mayor, Member of Standing Policy Committee on Property and Development, Heritage and Downtown Development, Saint Boniface Ward) and Chair of the Cannabis Coordination Committee
Councillor Mike Pagtakhan (Chair, Standing Policy Committee on Protection, Community Services and Parks, Point Douglas Ward)
Councillor Cindy Gilroy (Chair, Standing Policy Committee on Innovation, Daniel McIntyre Ward)
Councillor Scott Gillingham (Chair, Standing Policy Committee on Finance, St. James-Brooklands-Weston Ward)
The Cannabis Coordination Committee will be supported by Michael Legary, Chief Innovation Officer, who will be the administrative lead. Mr. Legary will be supported by an administrative team including Mike Ruta, CFO, John Kiernan, Director of Property and Development, Winnipeg Police Chief Danny Smyth, Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Chief John Lane, Cindy Fernandes, Director of Community Services and Krista Boryskavich, Director of Legal Services.
“When the clock strikes legal later this summer, we need to be ready,” said Mayor Bowman. “Every day after legalization where we are not ready will be a good day for organized crime and will pose a significant safety risk for anyone choosing to consume cannabis. We need to minimize safety risks for our residents to the point of eliminating any opportunity for organized crime to benefit from the legalization of cannabis, and the best way to do this is to be ready to offer consumers safe access to a regulated product as soon as it is legal to do so.”
Mayor Bowman stressed the importance of working collaboratively with both the federal and provincial governments over the next six months.
“In addition to getting our own house in order, we need to be working collaboratively with other levels of government. Now is not the time to be working in siloes,” said Mayor Bowman. In this regard Mayor Bowman looks forward to working collaboratively with the federal and provincial Governments to coordinate planning efforts.
Mayor Bowman shares similar safety related concerns as the province has publicly stated, and he appreciates the firm stance and steps already taken by the provincial government to strengthen road safety and enforcement.
Mayor Bowman said it is very clear the legalization of cannabis will result in incremental costs for certain City of Winnipeg services, and that there remains a need to formally acknowledge that costs associated with the legalization of cannabis are incremental to the existing service costs provided by the City of Winnipeg.
“As we work to better quantify the costs associated with the legalization of cannabis, I think it is critical, first and foremost, to acknowledge that these costs will be incremental to any existing City of Winnipeg service costs,” said Mayor Bowman.
“That is why I support the position that the Association of Manitoba Municipalities has taken to co-develop a fair revenue sharing model for cannabis tax revenue that respects municipal authority and recognizes rising municipal service costs,” said Mayor Bowman.
“I also support the federal government’s recently proposed revenue sharing arrangement that would share federal excise tax revenue accrued from cannabis sales with provinces on a 75-25 basis with provinces being granted the lion’s share of 75 percent. I believe this represents a tremendous opportunity for our province to capture and share with municipalities federal growth revenue that could be used to partially address the incremental service costs incurred by municipalities.”
Manitoba Post with files from The City of Winnipeg
Photo - marijuana.com