Federal Liberals rush to legalize

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The federal government should push back the date for marijuana legalization to ensure municipalities and police have enough time to ensure they are prepared.

As it stands, Okotoks’ mayor says the Town will have to rush to have local retail regulations for cannabis retailers setting up shop in town.

The Liberal government’s plan to legalize marijuana is July 1 but the date for legal sale of the drug will likely take effect in August after lengthy debates in the Canadian senate.

More time is essential to ensure police agencies, health authorities, municipalities and anyone else who could be affected by legalization are prepared.

With the July 1 deadline, Okotoks council has little more than four months to draft and approve a bylaw to set regulations for local retail outlets, but an August date will help. Until now, the Town has had to sit and wait until the Province unveiled its own retail regulations last week. As Okotoks’ mayor says, the rush is on for the Town, but he believes the Town will have a bylaw in place by July 1.

Municipalities should never have been put in the position to have to rush in the first place. Along with police and health officials, municipalities will be on the front lines in dealing with legalized cannabis and they deserve to have more time to be able to consider potential impacts.

The Town has the power to create regulations, designate appropriate locations and set buffer zones for schools, health care facilities, daycares or any other location that should be off limits. It’s critical to get it right, but there’s very little time to do so.

The feds still have time to push back the timeline to give everyone more time to be ready.

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