Pubdate: Tue, 19 Sep 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: David Rider
Page: GT5


A city committee has endorsed the province's highly regulated approach
to marijuanalegislation, despite pleas from dispensary operators and
pot users.

The licensing committee voted 4-1 Monday in favour of city staff
recommendations endorsing Premier Kathleen Wynne's plan to sell
marijuana only in government run, LCBO-type shops across Ontario after
federal legalization takes effect next year.

The vote also endorses a call for Ontario to cover any city costs
associated with the end of pot prohibition and new legislative tools,
including stiffer penalties for operators of illegal private shops and
possibly businesses where people consume pot. The province wants
consumption to be legal only in private homes.

That could mean pot legalization would trigger crackdowns on
pot-friendly businesses such as Hot Box, a Kensington Market lounge
where people have openly consumed their own marijuana since 2003 -
vaping inside, smoking outside - along with medically minded
dispensaries and the pot-selling shops that recently

"They've essentially demonized cannabis," said Abi Hod, Hot Box owner
and a director of the Cannabis Friendly Business Association, of the
Liberal government's plan in a presentation to committee members.

Jodi Emery, a prominent marijuana legalization activist and former
Toronto dispensary operator, said the provincial plan sells out people
who suffered to end prohibition. She accused the province of listening
to big business and law enforcement that will benefit from tightly
regulated legalization.

"The city of Toronto has failed their citizens and taxpayers and will
continue to fail them if they proceed as suggested at this meeting,"
she said.

Tracey Cook, the city manager in charge of licensing, defended the
provincial proposals.

"This is a significant culture change for the country," she told the
committee. Legalization "needs to be done in a cautious and deliberate
manner because public health and public safety, in particular the
health and safety of our youth, is not something to be entered into
lightly." Most committee members agreed. The dissenter on committee
was Councillor Jim Karygiannis. He accused city staff of failing to
properly consult the local pot community and said people who use
marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and other ailments
will be hurt by provincial rules on where they must buy and consume.

The committee's recommendation will go to full city council, which has
final say.
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