Pubdate: Tue, 28 Jun 2016
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Limited Partnership
Authors: Shawn Jeffords & Aaron D'Andrea
Page: 4


Decide to pass on pot debate until after new fed rules

Toronto councillors have passed the proverbial joint when it comes to
regulating the city's controversial pot dispensaries.

Councillors on the licensing and standards committee voted Monday to
defer a debate on regulating pot shops, opting to wait until Aug. 24
when the federal government is slated to introduce new rules around
access to medical marijuana.

Councillors won't spark up their dispensary debate - delayed for the
second time since May - until October.

In May, Mayor John Tory asked city officials to look at dealing with
the grey zone currently at play since the feds signaled they would
legalize marijuana. Asked Monday if the deferral delays his request,
Tory's office said the mayor is content to wait for the federal rules
later this summer.

"The Mayor asked city staff to look into the feasibility of a
regulatory framework to make sure this industry operates responsibly,"
said spokesman Keerthana Kamalavasan in a statement to the Sun. "The
mayor would like to see the federal government move as quickly as
possible to implement new regulations regarding marijuana."

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti said the federal government was trying to
"pawn off" its responsibilities on to municipal governments.

"Until the federal government actually legalizes marijuana,
municipalities are not in the position of legalizing (pot
dispensaries)," he said. "That's what people just don't understand, I

"I think what you're seeing here is an effort to capitalize on an
illegal substance," he added.

But the deferral was a buzzkill for dozens of medicinal marijuana
advocates who came to City Hall to have their say on the issue.

"People were here to be heard," said Councillor Jim Karygiannis, who
was the lone committee member to vote against the deferral. "Shutting
them down is nothing else but an insult to them."

Activists booed and jeered members of the committee after being
informed they would not be able to speak on the issue.

Brandy Zurborg, co-owner of Queens of Cannabis, questioned the
committee's work.

"We're educated. We're all highly-educated individuals who can see
past this," she said. "We can see through their garbage they're trying
to feed us. It's just a sham, and absolute sham."

A report before council Monday advised councillors to wait until the
federal regulations dropped in August before making a decision. In the
meantime, Mark Sraga, the city's Director, Investigation Services, for
Municipal Licensing and Standards, says staff will continue to look at
what other cities are doing on the file.

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by Aaron D'Andrea

Toronto won't be blazing a new trail if it decides to regulate pot
dispensaries, a number medicinal marijuana advocates say.

But those same people say there is a right way and wrong way to do

Vancouver, B.C., for instance, is following the wrong road, according
to Jodie Emery, medicinal marijuana advocate and owner of Cannabis
Culture. The restrictions on what the shops can sell and where they
can be located are "excessive, heavy-handed, unnecessary and
un-justified," she said.

"They are designed to literally shut down 90% of all the businesses,"
she said, adding the rules have a "prohibition-style." Medical
marijuana-related businesses in Vancouver are only allowed to operate
in commercial zones, and must be at least 300-metres away from
schools, community centres, houses, facilities that serve vulnerable
youth and other marijuana-related businesses, the regulations state.

The shops also aren't allowed to sell edible marijuana products under
the rules, she said.

In Vancouver, shops license fees range from $1,000 for non-profit
compassion clubs to $30,000 for medical marijuana-related retailers.

Meanwhile, advocates point to Victoria, B.C. as a better

Dieter MacPherson, the president of the Canadian Association of
Medical Cannabis Dispensaries, said the city is proposing the
allowance for edible marijuana products and is reducing the required
distance from places like schools and vulnerable youth facilities to
200 metres with an estimated $5,000 license fee.

"Victoria has had the benefit of looking at what Vancouver did and
amending it," he said. "City council has had more of an integrated and
inclusive process in developing their regulations and has taken its
time to have in-depth conversations about this."

Kirk Tousaw, a lawyer who has represented clients in both cities, said
civic leaders in both locations have accepted that dispensaries are
there to stay.
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