Pubdate: Thu, 28 Sep 2017
Source: NOW Magazine (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 NOW Communications Inc.
Author: Enzo DiMatteo
Page: 11


Toronto's former chief is not the only ex-cop or politician looking to
profit from legal marijuana, but he may be the biggest hypocrite among

Julian Fantino has turned over a new leaf on marijuana. The former
Toronto police chief, OPP commish and Harper-era cabinet minister will
serve as executive chair of something called Aleafia Inc., which
describes itself on its website as a "total health network."

The company will essentially act as a middleman that connects
prospective medicinal-marijuana users with licensed growers, according
to the Globe and Mail, which broke the story over the weekend - and
then promptly put it behind a paywall knowing full well the clicking
frenzy Fantino's association with legal weed would touch off.

Fantino's not the only former top cop or politician to try and profit
off legal weed - the list is a long one - but he may be the biggest
hypocrite among them.

You don't have to look far to understand why his involvement in the
biz might be difficult to wrap your head around. Just google the words
"Julian Fantino" and "marijuana," and what comes up is hit after hit
of a career (both in politics and in policing) dedicated to a level of
reefer madness that's had no equal. This is the dude who once likened
decriminalizing weed to legalizing murder.

As recently as the last federal election, Fantino was claiming in an
interview with the Toronto Sun in 2015 that legal pot would prove a
boon for organized crime, despite evidence to the contrary (like in
Colorado, where marijuana is legal).

Back then, he charged that the Libs' plan to legalize weed included
opening marijuana cafes. Horrors. Fantino also distributed flyers in
his Vaughan riding in 2014 claiming Justin Trudeau planned to make pot
available to minors. Which is to say that when it comes to marijuana -
and saving his own political ass - Fantino is prepared to say anything.

The real mind-bender: Fantino also said in the Sun interview that he
was offered "a lot" of money by an unnamed company to get in on the
ground floor of the burgeoning bud business. All he would have to do
was lend his name to the enterprise. He said, "I would never do it."
So what's changed? Fantino told the Globe that he's "evolved" on legal
marijuana. He says it was his time as Veterans Affairs minister under
Harper, during which he saw Afghan war vets turning to prescription
marijuana to deal with anxiety, sleep disorders and PTSD, that was a
turning point.

But that explanation doesn't quite pass the sniff test either, since
it was under Fantino's watch that the Veterans Affairs department
recommended capping the amount of prescription marijuana vets could
receive under the feds' benefits program.

What would be really interesting to hear from Fantino is if his
newfound support for marijuana extends to reparations for those,
mostly Black youth, who have been saddled with life-limiting criminal
records because of pot prohibition.

As OPP commish, Fantino only saw red when it came to green,
establishing a "marijuana eradication program" to bust grow-ops. He
claimed the operation was to counteract a growing marijuana epidemic
that he said was fuelling the purchase of guns, cocaine and heroin. To
him, marijuana was the root of all evil when it came to the drug
trade, even though it's widely accepted that most of the marijuana
grown in Canada supplies the domestic market. It's safe to say Fantino
has never been one to let the truth stand in the way of a good story,
or photo op.

He wasn't always a buzz kill on pot. When the Liberals under Paul
Martin were toying with the idea of decriminalization in 2003, Fantino
instructed his officers on the Toronto force not to bust anyone
holding under 30 grams. But that was more out of frustration than a
belief in the idea of leniency. As long as Ottawa was taking its sweet
time making up its mind on whether or not to decriminalize weed, the
cops were in legal limbo.

Fantino will no doubt mine what contacts he's made in law enforcement
and political circles for his new venture. His partner at Aleafia, Raf
Souccar, is a former undercover drug officer and RCMP deputy
commissioner, and served on the PM's task force on marijuana.

It also just so happens that the director of communications at Canopy,
the largest licensed marijuana producer in the country, is also a
former underling of Fantino's at Veterans Affairs (and winner of the
Minister's Award of Excellence during his time there).

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
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