Pubdate: Sun, 06 Nov 2016
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Canoe Limited Partnership
Page: 15


They come with names such as Green Tree and Weeds Glass & Gifts, which
sound harmless. But Ottawa's 16 pot shops aren't legal, and some of
them have sprung up in the last few months in areas close to where
kids can be found, or where shops cater to families. Many in Ottawa
have clamoured for the police to shut them down.

Friday, finally, the brass took action, staging simultaneous raids on
six marijuana dispensaries across the city. About time.

Neighbours had been unhappy. Coun. Mathieu Fleury had demanded to know
why the storefronts were even allowed to operate, and had openly
worried that Montreal Road would become "pot row." Landlords of the
buildings that house these operations had already been told that legal
action might occur. (One evicted a marijuana shop earlier in the
week.) So the police raids, which included arrests, questioning
customers, and confiscating bags and bags of cannabis products, were
only a matter of time.

Under the Trudeau Liberals, marijuana legalization is promised. At the
end of this month, a task force led by a former Liberal justice
minister will produce recommendations on how to actually legislate the
sale and use of ganja.

The government's own Parliamentary Budget Officer has weighed in on
pricing, noting that there will be no tax windfall from legalization.
That means the main reason to do it is to ensure access is made safer,
keep it away from kids, and make it easier for those who need it
medically to obtain herb without hassle.

This coming legalization is why some in Ottawa think that shutting
down pot shops is a waste of resources: we'll all be permitted to buy
our cannabis cookies soon enough, they argue. Leave the shops alone.

Here's the reality. The government's law will supposedly be introduced
in the spring of 2017 - but that doesn't mean it will pass for another
year (or more). After parliamentary committee scrutiny, for instance,
it will go to the Senate, now listing with independent-minded
appointees who may have their own views on drug legalization. All of
which is to say: Letting these illegal shops continue to spring up on
Ottawa's streets was never an acceptable option for Ottawa police.

They needed to start shutting shops, charging people and upholding the
law as it stands now - not as we expect it to be at an unknown future
date. Friday's raids were a start.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt