With the legalization of marijuana less than a year away, rural municipalities and towns in the Interlake are cautiously preparing themselves for potential businesses opening up in their communities.
Late last year, municipalities were asked during an Association of Manitoba Municipalities convention to tentatively confirm if they intended to allow the sale of marijuana in their communities by Dec. 22. Many surveyed said they intended to allow.
“We are all in, with conditions,” Stonewall Mayor Lockie McLean said.
He said one of the conditions would be where the shops would be set up and how they would look in the community.
“We have to listen to the people as well, in terms of where they think they should be,” McLeean noted.
“Stonewall’s a proud town, we have some great looking business and that’s what we want when it comes to any business. If they can keep up with that or improve it further and it’s legalized then there is no problem,” he said.
At their regular council meeting Dec. 21, the Town of Winnipeg Beach voted to intend to allow the sale of cannabis in the community.
“We believe that once it does become legal, how can we not allow something that the Canada government has deemed legal?” Mayor Tony Pimentel told Interlake Publishing.
“ We understand that there will be regulations on the product that is being sold and were these retailers can be located. Government product will be safer then what may be sold out side of the government control,” he added.
Selkirk Mayor Larry Johannson said the city was “open for business” and believes if the legalization is done correctly, will open doors for more business in the community.
“It will generate a little bit of revenue and we can have control of it,” he said.
He noted that, like many other municipalities, Selkirk was unaware of how the tax revenue generated from the sale of marijuana will be divided amongst the three levels of government
He added he hoped for fair and equitable funding for his city.
In Teulon, Reeve Bert Campbell said his RM would likely follow the province’s guidelines for sale and distribution.
“We’re just going to be status quo. Whatever the province decides to do, I don’t think we will have a whole lot of say,” Campbell said.
“We are not going to object on what they decide to do because I think whatever they decide to do will be (implemented) sooner or later, so we might as well do it sooner.”
Manitobans preparing for change
A Probe Research Inc. poll that surveyed 1,000 adults in the province between Nov. 23 and Dec. 14, found 58% of Manitobans where comfortable with a marijuana shop opening in their community, while 40% where opposed to it.
Of those, a large portion of moderate or strong opposers (45%), where from rural Manitoba and mostly over 55 years-of-age.
As well, a large portion of the poll commissioned by AMM also found 59% of respondents believed municipal governments should receive up to half the tax revenue from sales, while 24% thought they should get less than half, and 16% were unsure.
As of now, the framework marijauna tax revenue has not been finalized.
“We’ll continue to work with all levels of government in establishing a framework for Manitobans,” Manitoba Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton said to Postmedia via an email.
Marijuana is set to be legalized in the summer, with potential shops being set up as early as July 2. The provincial government is reviewing more than 100 proposals from those seeking open up shop in various communities.
-with files Postmedia Network