Montréal Seeks Third of Future Tax Revenue from Cannabis

Councillor Robert Beaudry says Montréal is taking ‘public health approach, not public security.’

The Project Montréal administration says Montreal welcomes Quebec’s proposed legislation on the legalization of cannabis. But they want to make sure the city gets its fair share of the revenue.

Montreal is seeking a third of any tax revenues from the sale of cannabis products on its territory. Under this proposal, two-thirds would be split between the provincial and federal governments. Those recommendations are contained in the city’s brief to the provincial government, tabled at a meeting of Montreal’s executive committee Wednesday.

“It’s cities that are going to be shouldering most of the management of cannabis legislation,” said Coun. Robert Beaudry.

Among new costs the city will incur are those associated with the hiring of as many as 50 additional police officers and an estimated $4 million to $9 million in training firefighters and other civil security workers, Beaudry said.

Those cost estimates are contained in another report from the accounting firm Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, commisioned by the city.

Montréal Outdoor Events

The Projet Montréal administration says Montreal welcomes Quebec's proposed legislation on the legalization of cannabis
Weed has long been tolerated at the foot of Mont-Royal, where the tam-tams are held every Sunday when the weather is fine. via CBC News 

Generally, the report supports enforcing the same rules for using cannabis in public as those established for the use of tobacco. However, the city wants permission to make its own rules when it comes to outdoor concerts and festivals.

Beaudry cited the Sunday tam-tams in Mount Royal Park where the presence of weed has long been tolerated.

“I don’t think it would be appropriate to ban it at the tam-tams, knowing its history,” he said.

But at more family-oriented festivals such as Montreal’s Fête des Neiges, “it may not necessarily be appropriate.” The city agrees with the government’s proposed ban on using cannabis while behind the wheel. However, they are seeking clarity on how that would be applied. Beaudry said the city is taking a “public health approach, and not a public security approach.”

“That flexibility would allow us to avoid stigmatizing people and to [make decisions] quickly,” he said.