OTTAWA – Municipalities will have to grapple with a host of thorny issues once recreational cannabis is legalized in Canada – but it’s the matter of home-grown marijuana plants that’s expected to cause them the biggest headaches.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has developed a guide to legalization, released Monday, to help identify the challenges and regulatory options for dealing with them that municipal governments across the country will face once the prohibition on cannabis use is lifted later this year.
The federation warns that developing the rules governing legal cannabis production, sales and consumption could involve as many as 17 different municipal departments covering everything from land use and zoning to business licensing and public consumption.
But the guide singles out the proposed federal law’s provision allowing a residential dwelling to grow up to four marijuana plants as the most problematic.
“The issue of home cultivation of cannabis – even with a four-plant limit in place – is one that the will require public consultation,” the guide says.
“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.”
The warning is based on the bitter experience of municipalities, which have struggled for years with “major problems” caused by the legal home cultivation of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
“It has meant a significantly compromised housing stock, heavy demands on policing resources, local nuisance complaints and erosion of the culture of compliance on which the effectiveness of local bylaws largely depends,” the guide says.
Health Canada issues licences to individuals authorized to grow medical marijuana at home, but the guide