Saskatchewan municipalities follow federal framework for marijuana legalization

Saskatchewan urban and rural municipalities will follow federal framework for how to manage marijuana legalization in the coming months.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities released a guide to legalization on Monday, aimed at helping local governments identify challenges and regulatory options when marijuana is legalized later this year. The Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities say they will follow the FCM’s guide in bringing marijuana legalization to the province.

“With the legalization of cannabis imminent, rural municipalities have many unanswered questions,” said SARM President Ray Orb in a news release. “The guide should assist municipalities in filling this information gap.”

“The Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization is a key tool for Saskatchewan hometowns as they prepare for cannabis legalization,” Gordon Barnhart, SUMA president, said in a written release. “Not only does this guide describe the work ahead for municipalities, but it also offers some direction and options for how to move forward.”

The guide shows that rules governing legal cannabis production, sales and consumption will cover land use, zoning, business licensing and public consumption.

“The issue of home cultivation of cannabis – even with a four-plant limit in place – is one that will require public consultation,” the guide said. “It is also the issue that will be the most challenging for municipalities to decide on whether to develop a regulatory response. … Of all the regulations that might be considered in relation to the legalization of cannabis, this one has the potential to generate the greatest number of enforcement complaints.”

Provinces and territories are developing their own local guidelines for cannabis production and consumption. Saskatchewan announced in March that the legal age for consumption will be 19. Also, marijuana will also be sold through private retailers. The province has dictated that municipalities can hand out a specific number of licenses. Regina has six and Saskatoon has seven available.

According to the guide, municipalities will need to look at possible changes to zoning, land use, retail locations and business licensing. They will also need to look at potential changes to smoking bylaws to include the consumption of cannabis.

“Local governments will face significant new enforcement and operational challenges in the months and years ahead,” federation president Jenny Gerbasi said in a foreword to the guide.

“There is a world of bylaws to develop and business licensing rules to review.”