Pubdate: Wed, 15 Nov 2017
Source: Toronto 24hours (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Inc.
Author: Joe Warmington
Page: 5


One was the chief of police for Toronto, London, York Region and the

The other spent 34 years putting away bad guys as a member of the
RCMP, retiring as deputy commissioner of Federal and International

In the past, if former police chief Julian Fantino or onetime RCMP
officer Raf Souccar were talking to you about cannabis, it would be
time to quickly head for the door or maybe even call a lawyer.

Not anymore.

Fantino and Souccar now fight for the benefits of marijuana: The legal
kind that is. The kind used for medical purposes.

"I have become a convert," said Fantino Tuesday. "It started to happen
when I was the (federal Conservative cabinet) minister working with
veterans and I saw first hand how they were helped."

Added Souccar: "In my case, (it was) when I was working on the task 
force for the prime minister and I got an education on the benefits."

And, starting now, they are among the principles opening the Aleafia
Total Health Network flagship clinic in Vaughan that utilizes cannabis
to help people.

"It's a holistic approach," said Fantino. "It's making people

As both defence minister and veterans affairs minister, as well as
being a chief of police for four services, Fantino saw the agony
military personnel went through during or after their

"For some, it's horrible," said Fantino. "There is sleep deprivation
and people in so much pain."

Souccar said the story of a young boy with epilepsy going from more
than 100 seizures a day to sometimes going for two weeks without one,
convinced him.

For many in need of medical relief, opiate products, prescribed or
otherwise, seemed to be the drug of choice, even though the addictive
painkillers have ruined lives.

"Legal cannabis in many cases can replace opioids," insisted

"We want to help people get off of opioids," added

But at Aleafia, the idea is to not rely on any one medicine or
approach. Medical cannabis is part of it - through traditional means
or through pills or oils.

"But cannabis will only be authorized for use by our patients who are
in need of that help. We will be offering chiropractic help here and
massage, as well as other medical approaches," said Souccar.

"The goal is to get people better," says Fantino, who adds that it's
up to the government to decide whether or not medicinal weed should be
taxed, which is what the Liberals are proposing despite saying the
opposite earlier.

It seems like a noble pursuit for both as well as their other partners
on this unique project. But it has not come without its criticism or
snickers. Some on social media have used the word "hypocrisy" to
describe these two cops going down the road of cannabis, which next
year will become legal for recreational use in Canada.

Of course, it's unfair.

But even I questioned them about it given they have both been strongly
opposed to the illegal use of marijuana. When he was a politician,
Fantino was also critical of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's push to
legalize the product.

Both are pretty used to hearing from the critics.

When you look at Aleafia closely, it does not in any way seem to be
related to next year's pot plans.

"It isn't," said Souccar. "Medical cannabis therapy has been legal in
Canada for 20 years and even if the legalization plans were to be
changed, it would not change what we are doing at Aleafia."

That said, both are aware of the "stigma" surrounding the drug and
"through education" are helping to bring about the same change in
thinking that happened to them.

Fantino does not have to apologize for wanting to help people who are
suffering. Nor does Souccar.

They should be given a pat on the back.
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MAP posted-by: Matt