There is a saying that all politics are local.
This make sense, when you realize that much of the definitions of “politic” and “politics” have to do with relationships and how people relate to you. And it’s much easier to relate with people when they are in your neighborhood.
When it comes to politics and laws, even at a federal level, all is handled and executed best at a local level. This is why when a bank is robbed, local authorities assist federal authorities to enforce the law – though bank robbery is a federal offense.
Federal as Good as Local
We bring all this up because of the Canada Cannabis Act, which goes into effect in July as a federal law to allow limited possession, use, purchase and sale of cannabis and cannabis products. While it is a federal law, it will impact cities, towns, provinces and territories, and the efficacy of this law is met only the enforcement and responsibilities of local jurisdictional governments.
That is the important part of the Cannabis Act. Local governments and jurisdictions have some provisions that allow them to state some different rules that may be more restrictive that the federal legislation. But while the restrictions may be more strict, they won’t mean as much without proper enforcement and accountability at the provincial, territorial and municipal levels.
The Roles of Local Governments
Most federal legislation is only as good as the local governments and law-enforcement agencies at prioritizing and executing the provisions of the law in their areas. This also means some provinces or territories having the right to adjust some provisions of the law to fit their own public-safety priorities.
Individual provinces, territories, and even municipalities can enact laws in relation to the federal Cannabis Act that may further restrict guidelines for the use, posession and sale of cannabis within the territory, province or municipality.
This means that a province can decide to raise the age limit to higher than age 18, restrict the number of plants allowed in a household grow (can limit it to fewer than four plants, but not more) and even the amount to sell at a time (down from 30 games, not above 30 grams). These decisions can be made locally based on the public-safety priorities of the population (maybe one province has a higher percentage of minors, while another may have a higher percentage of cannabis users, etc.).
Local governments can also have a say in where cannabis can be consumed outside of the home, and they can establish zoning rules for cannabis retailers and restrictions as to cultivation of cannabis within areas of a city (such as near schools or churches, for example).
Next up, we’ll go into details about legal production of cannabis and cannabis products.