In a letter dated and sent to Finance Minister Bill Morneau on Nov. 2, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) asked the feds for a portion of marijuana tax revenue.
While the federal and provincial governments quarrel over their fair share of cannabis revenue after prohibition ends in July, the coalition of Canadian cities argue they need revenue to help cover the costs associated with legalization.
“Municipalities cover almost 60 percent of Canada’s policing costs,” said FCM president Jenny Gerbasi in the letter. “Preparing the bulk of Canada’s police forces to enforce new cannabis rules with appropriate training, systems, and resources is a massive and costly undertaking.”
Gerbasi added the $161 million that will be set aside by the feds for police training is a start, but it is unclear how much of that revenue will trickle down to the municipal level.
The FCM said they are committed to the federal government’s objectives and have already begun altering bylaws to get an early start on legalization. They added that some cities will need to make changes to as many as 17 different departments. Those areas include transit, human resources, and the aforementioned police training.
“Our cities are where cannabis will be used and sold,” said Gerbasi. “We’re on the front lines of this.”
To their credit, it seems the federal government is listening.
Federal finance officials met Wednesday with a group from FCM to discuss the needs of municipalities. Although Gerbasi was encouraged by the meeting, the FCM is looking for clear evidence that financial assistance is coming.