Quebec union of municipalities says no to pot near schools or in poor districts

Cannabis shouldn't be sold near schools or in underprivileged areas, the president of the organization that represents Quebec's municipalities said Tuesday.

It will be municipalities themselves that will have to deal with any criminal activities that ensue in such neighbourhoods, Alexandre Cusson told reporters after presenting his organization's position on Quebec's cannabis legislation.

He also noted the bill has some grey areas, including how authorities will handle cannabis smoking during outdoor music festivals.
"That's one of our concerns," Cusson said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised marijuana will be legal in Canada by next summer. He has left it up to individual provinces, however, to create legal frameworks regarding how the product will be controlled and sold within their jurisdictions.

Quebec has tabled Bill 157, which makes it illegal to buy marijuana from anyone other than the government and prohibits anyone from growing their own marijuana plants.

Cusson said municipalities are also looking for one-third of the revenue generated from marijuana sales.

"For us, the costs are extremely important," Cusson said, adding cities aren't looking to make money off pot, but to have funds to pay for additional expenses associated with legalization.

He cited police services as an example of a municipal expense that will increase.

"We're talking about up to $10,000 per officer, without taking into consideration time for training or the travel of people who will be doing the training," Cusson said. He added there is a "whole package of services" that will be affected when marijuana becomes legal.

Cusson said his organization is also looking for the government to better explain how it will enforce its so-called "zero-tolerance" policy on driving under the influence of marijuana and other drugs.