Nunavut hamlets work to get ready for marijuana legalization

"It doesn't mean municipal workers are going to be able to get high and go to work and take weed breaks"


The legalization of marijuana presents many issues that hamlets need to think about with respect to their municipal works, says Brian Fleming, the executive director of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities, to mayors from Nunavut’s Kitikmeot region who met Oct. 3 to Oct. 5 in Cambridge Bay. “You don’t see workers having cocktails at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when they’re on coffee breaks,” Fleming said Oct. 3. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

CAMBRIDGE BAY—Hamlet mayors and senior administrators in Nunavut will start to consider the impact of marijuana legalization at the municipal level when they meet at the end of next month in Iqaluit.

This debate is a necessary step in preparing for July 2018 when cannabis products are set to become legal, but regulated, in Canada, said Brian Fleming, the executive director of the Nunavut Association of Municipalities, which will bring together SAOs Nov. 28 to Nov. 30 and mayors from Dec. 1 to Dec. 3 for their annual general meeting.

“We don’t have any answers yet because it still needs to be debated—there’s lots of issues,” Fleming said at the meeting of the Kitikmeot region’s mayors, held Oct. 3 to Oct. 5 in Cambridge Bay.

Fleming said he has already received many calls from hamlet officials who are eager for the proposed Cannabis Act, or Bill C-45, to become law.

This act would create a strict legal framework for controlling the production, distribution, sale and possession of marijuana across Canada.

It would also maintain the current program for accessing marijuana for medical purposes.

Fleming said that the new law, expected to come into effect July 2018, will raise many issues within hamlets.

“It doesn’t mean municipal workers are going to be able to get high and go to work and take weed breaks,” Fleming told Nunatsiaq News.

“So there has to be a policy framework developed for this.”

As well, there’s the question of how to handle the use of medical marijuana, already prescribed for a few municipal workers.

“So what do you do with a case like that? If they’re getting all worked up, and anxious, and feel like they have to have some prescription marijuana to calm themselves down, do you let them continue to work or do you send them home?

“Those are the kinds of issues we are talking about,” Fleming said.

Under the new Cannabis Act, provinces and territories would license and oversee the distribution and sale of marijuana and restrict the places where adults can consume marijuana, such as in public places or in vehicles.

But Fleming said hamlets will also have to enact bylaws, for example, on where members of the public may consume marijuana within municipalities.

The NAM already sits on a cross-jurisdictional committee looking at the legalization of marijuana, which includes government officials, lawyers and the RCMP.

Fleming said discussions at the NAM’s meeting will feature a panel with some of the members of this committee as well as from the Public Service Alliance of Canada and the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission.

If it is approved by Parliament, the Cannabis Act could become law with a target date of no later than July 2018, says the federal government.

If any province or territory is unable to meet that deadline for the creation of regulations for the sale, distribution and cultivation of marijuana, residents of those jurisdictions will be able to order the product by mail order, the federal legislation says.

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