Pubdate: Tue, 31 May 2016
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Page: 5
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Shawn Jeffords


City to get blunt with feds

The federal government needs to step up and put an end to the 
confusion surrounding the sale of pot prior to legalizing the popular 
drug, says Toronto's Board of Health.

The board called on Ottawa to clarify issues surrounding the 
possession and sale of non-medicinal marijuana Monday, just days 
after Toronto Police officers conducted sweeping raids across the 
city, arresting 90 people and seizing drugs at pot dispensaries.

Councillor Joe Cressy said the city needs "interim guidance," 
insisting the raids are the result of confusion about weed sales. 
"The federal government has told us criminalization doesn't work, 
therefore they're going to legalize it tomorrow but it should 
continue to be enforced today," he said. "That doesn't work for 
anybody." Cressy said Toronto, and cities across Canada, need the 
federal government to provide direction immediately. "Cities across 
this country, and police departments, are struggling to try to figure 
out what to do," he said. "Do you crackdown? Do you let things stand? 
Do you try to create your own bylaws? There's no consistency." The 
board met Monday to discuss a report on legalization of recreational 
marijuana. The federal government has promised to unveil legislation 
next spring which will pave the way for people to legally consume 
cannabis for recreational purposes.

Public health officials were asked in 2015 to weigh-in on what 
legalization should look like from a public health perspective and 
offer that advice to the feds.

But the session turned into a forum for supporters of medical 
marijuana to blast the city, and police, for conducting last week's 
pot shop raids.

Adolfo Gonzales, spokesman for the Toronto Dispensary Coalition, 
demanded that Toronto Police drop all charges against dispensary 
workers arrested during the raids.

Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's medical officer of health, stressed 
there's need to minimize harm that will result from the legalized 
recreational use of marijuana.

"Canada is going to be taking an important step if it moves forward 
with legalization and regulation," he said. "Very few countries 
around the world have done this so it's important we get it right 
from a public health point of view."

City council has final say next week on the health board's request to 
the federal government.
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