Reg­istries for home pot grow­ers, an op­tion, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties ad­vised

Na­tional lobby group ex­plains how le­gal cannabis can be reg­u­lated at lo­cal level

Ottawa Citizen - - CITY - JON WILL­ING jwill­ing@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/JonathanWilling

While the fed­eral and pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments grap­ple with the im­pli­ca­tions of new pot leg­is­la­tion, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are still sort­ing out a wide range of costly is­sues, from by­laws to land-use reg­u­la­tions.

City gov­ern­ments will need to de­cide if they should reg­u­late small res­i­den­tial mar­i­juana ops and es­tab­lish reg­istries of homes legally grow­ing the plants when new fed­eral cannabis laws come into ef­fect, ac­cord­ing to the na­tional ad­vo­cate for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

In its Mu­nic­i­pal Guide to Cannabis Le­gal­iza­tion, pub­lished Mon­day, the Fed­er­a­tion of Cana­dian Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties says a mu­nic­i­pal pot registry, with a reg­is­tra­tion fee, is one of the op­tions open to city gov­ern­ments as they de­velop lo­cal reg­u­la­tions.

It de­pends how much red tape mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties want to wrap around re­laxed cannabis laws in ar­eas under their ju­ris­dic­tion. As many as 17 mu­nic­i­pal depart­ments might need pro­cesses in re­sponse to new cannabis leg­is­la­tion, the FCM says.

The fed­eral cannabis laws haven’t re­ceived much at­ten­tion from Ot­tawa city coun­cil, even though there are po­ten­tial im­pacts on mu­nic­i­pal op­er­a­tions, as high­lighted by the FCM. Ot­tawa Pub­lic Health has pro­vided feed­back on the pro­posed cannabis reg­u­la­tions and the Ot­tawa Po­lice Ser­vice has flagged con­cerns over the cost of law en­force­ment, but coun­cil hasn’t ad­dressed out­stand­ing is­sues when it comes to land use and by­laws.

Two City of Ot­tawa by­law staff were part of the FCM’s tech­ni­cal ad­vi­sory group for the guide.

The city, which has es­ti­mated the cost of the cannabis law changes at $8 mil­lion in the first year, has put to­gether an “in­te­grated cannabis leg­is­la­tion team,” led by the emer­gency and pro­tec­tive ser­vices depart­ment. The team has sev­eral city depart­ments, in­clud­ing le­gal ser­vices, plan­ning, po­lice and pub­lic health.

“Given that the leg­is­la­tion is cur­rently go­ing through the re­spec­tive fed­eral and pro­vin­cial leg­isla­tive pro­cesses, the city awaits fur­ther clar­i­fi­ca­tion from other lev­els of gov­ern­ment in or­der to an­a­lyze po­ten­tial im­pacts on the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and its own by­laws, pro­cesses and pro­ce­dures,” ac­cord­ing to An­thony Di Monte, gen­eral man­ager of emer­gency and pro­tec­tive ser­vices.

In land-use poli­cies, mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties have a range of op­tions for ap­ply­ing tight re­stric­tions on where cannabis can be con­sumed and grown.

On­tario mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties don’t have much choice when it comes to busi­ness reg­u­la­tions for le­gal pot shops, since those will be under con­trol of the prov­ince’s On­tario Cannabis Store, which hasn’t yet an­nounced where in Ot­tawa it will es­tab­lish re­tail space.

Under the feds’ pro­posed cannabis plan, peo­ple could grow up to four plants per home for non-med­i­cal use, ei­ther in­side the home or out­side on the prop­erty. Cannabis users with fed­eral li­cences can al­ready grow plants or as­sign peo­ple to grow plants for them. The FCM says the home-grow is­sue “will be the most chal­leng­ing for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to de­cide on whether to de­velop a reg­u­la­tory re­sponse.”

A registry could help mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties un­der­stand where cannabis is be­ing grown, the FCM says, but it’s hard to say if res­i­dents would com­ply with a re­quire­ment to re­port their cannabis plants. Mu­nic­i­pal ac­tion would re­quire pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion, the FCM says.

Home-grow re­stric­tions could also be part of ten­ancy agree­ments in multi-res­i­den­tial build­ings.

Ot­tawa Com­mu­nity Hous­ing, whose sole share­holder is the City of Ot­tawa, needs to de­cide if it will let ten­ants grow cannabis in their homes. An OCH spokes­woman said it’s “pre­ma­ture” to com­ment which di­rec­tion the agency will go, since it’s still wait­ing for the fi­nal cannabis leg­is­la­tion from the prov­ince.

ASH­LEY FRASER FILES

The Fed­er­a­tion of Cana­dian Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties ad­mits it’s hard to say if Cana­di­ans would com­ply if re­quired to re­port grow­ing mar­i­juana plants in their homes.

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