Pubdate: Sat, 09 Sep 2017
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Antonella Artuso
Page: 4


Liberals unveil long-awaited legislation to regulate marijuana in

Three senior Ontario cabinet stalwarts assured the public Friday that
their plan to roll out storefront and online government pot stores
will not compromise community safety or health.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, Finance Minister Charles Sousa and
Health Minister Dr. Eric Hoskins defended a new recreational pot
monopoly to be run by the same folks that oversee alcohol sales - the

At the same time, the government is putting "illegal" pot
dispensaries, which have popped up throughout the city offering a
variety of marijuana products, "on notice" that there will be a
crackdown, Naqvi said.

One of the key questions still outstanding is how much the government
will charge for recreational pot, including taxes.

"We want to provide a price point that eliminates illegal activity and
eliminates the illicit activity," Sousa said.

While there are pros and cons to high so-called sin taxes, tobacco
price increases have been blamed for driving customers to illegal
smoke shacks, a possibility with marijuana too.

Opposition parties called the government proposal halfbaked and a

"Today's announcement by the Wynne government is an obvious attempt to
distract from the Liberal bribery trial now underway, and the upcoming
Liberal gas plant scandal trial," NDP MPP Gilles Bisson said in a
statement. "Something as important as Ontario's framework guiding the
use and retail of recreational marijuana should not leave the public
with more questions than answers."

Tory MPP Laurie Scott said Progressive Conservatives are still
concerned about public safety, especially drug-impaired driving.

"Unfortunately, we don't trust the Wynne Liberals to get this right,"
Scott said.

The Justin Trudeau government has announced it will legalize
recreational cannabis use by July, 2018, and ordered each province to
come up with a plan to make it accessible to the buying public.

The Ontario plan starts with 80 stand-alone stores in the first year,
growing to 150 stores by 2020.

No municipality has yet to indicate to the province that it does not
want a pot store.

The first stores will be located where most "illegal" pot dispensaries
are currently located, Naqvi said.

Toronto Mayor John Tory was generally in favour of the new
recreational cannabis regime.

"I have made it clear that while I support the legalization of
marijuana, I do not think the people of Toronto would support future
widespread location of outlets for the sale of marijuana in
residential neighbourhoods or in certain retailing areas," Tory said
in a statement. "I hope there will not be an excessive number of these
stores and they will be located in a way that places a premium on
neighbourhood safety."
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MAP posted-by: Matt