Enforcement of new cannabis legalization was one of the main issues highlighted at a public meeting held in Inuvik to discuss cannabis legalization April 30.
The Standing Committee on Government Operations and the Standing Committee on Social Development facilitated the public meeting to answer questions and get public input on cannabis legislation.
The legislation being discussed – Bill 6: Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Implementation Act – proposes two new statutes relating to the legalization and regulation of cannabis under the Cannabis Products Act and the Cannabis Smoking Control Act. Amendments are also being proposed to the Motor Vehicles Act.
Inuvik Mayor Jim McDonald said at the meeting that he was concerned with the town’s lack of resources for enforcement.
“We don’t have the resources to enforce this legislation,” said McDonald. “Our bylaw officers are here to enforce municipal legislation. I don’t believe we’ll have all of our bases covered.”
There are a number of penalties for those who contravene the legislation, as outlined in Bill 6.
According to Bill 6, the minister can appoint inspectors and designate analysts for the purpose of enforcing the act and its regulations.
At the meeting, Kieron Testart said GNWT environmental health officers will also be responsible for enforcing the new legislation.
There are seven environmental health officers in the territory.
Grant Hood, senior administrative officer of the Town of Inuvik, also spoke about Inuvik’s lack of enforcement resources.
“The only resources we have that would be eligible to enforce the legislation is our bylaw officers,” said Hood. “They are kept busy now with dogs and other types of things and quite honestly, for this, it’s such a hard legislation to enforce to begin with, I just don’t think it’s worth their while.”
Hood said the town does not have the resources to hire another bylaw officer to enforce Bill 6. However, if a serious complaint arises, current bylaw officers will respond to calls.
“There are certain areas where (bylaw officers) can do some enforcement, and if it was a serious enough issue, then maybe the bylaw officers would deal with it on an as-needed basis,” he said. “But their primary responsibilities will remain what they are now – traffic, dogs, things like that.”
He said one positive to the legislation for enforcement is that it will potentially reduce drug-related calls to the RCMP as regulated cannabis will be safer to use.
“The positive side of the legislation, I would say even from an enforcement side, it is going to potentially protect users,” said Hood. “They will have proper cannabis that isn’t potentially laced with something.”