Administration at North Battleford city hall is waiting for the province to take its first steps before making any decisions on preparing for the Canada-wide legalization of marijuana expected July 1.
The provincial government conducted an online consultation survey on cannabis legalization this past fall to gather public feedback before implementing parts of the relative legislation that are under its control. It is in the process of developing legislation and regulations for legalizing cannabis use in Saskatchewan related to the federal government’s Cannabis Act.
In some other provinces preparations are already beginning to take shape. Edmonton was reported as early as last March to have been closing loopholes related to bylaws to prevent marijuana sales in certain locations of the city, among its initiatives.
North Battleford city manager Jim Puffalt said he isn't worried about the city being able to jump into action as soon as the province has made its plans known related to legislation changes.
"We haven't seen anything specific about what they are planning," he said. "We know the zoning bylaw in our Official Community Plan we designated areas where medicinal marijuana can go, so we're just waiting to see what the provincial changes or provincial suggestions are before we do a whole bunch more."
The city previously approved a zoning bylaw change to allow for a medicinal marijuana production as a discretionary use at Parsons Industrial Park, located next to the Trans-Canada Highway on the city's outskirts.
It still has to make a decision on recreational-use marijuana grow facilities for this area however.
"Council hasn’t decided that yet so it will have to come before council to get some direction," Puffalt said.
In the meantime, Puffalt said he appreciates the province's caution in moving ahead with any changes on legislation related to legalizing pot.
"It's a big step," he said. "It's a big change for Canada. It's a big issue nationally. I watched the Prime Minister talk about it at his end-of-the-year speech. There are a lot of things to consider. You just want to make sure you have it right going forward. It just takes a little bit patience. We'll be ready to go when we get the information."
Puffalt said determining locations where marijuana will be sold will be one of the biggest challenges for the city, adding the sites would need to be away from the residential areas, schools and churches, as an example.
"We have some thoughts about it but we want to see what the regulations are before we determine what we have to do," he said.
"We're fairly responsive to new issues," Puffalt added. "We're able to move quite rapidly once we know what the information. We're able to move quickly to make changes."
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