HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Province Going To Pot?
Pubdate: Sat, 09 Sep 2017
Source: Barrie Examiner (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017, Barrie Examiner
Contact: http://www.thebarrieexaminer.com/letters
Website: http://www.thebarrieexaminer.com/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/2317
Author: Cheryl Browne
Page: A1

PROVINCE GOING TO POT?

Ontario AG announces plans to put controls in place concerning sale of
recreational marijuana

It might well be the end of the world as we know it.

Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi's announcement on the
legalization of marijuana - or cannabis as it's now being referred to
- - next July 1, is considered fine by many recreational pot smokers.

"If passed, the federal bill will set into motion a
once-in-a-generation change for our society; the end of prohibition,"
Naqvi said at the press conference Friday.

Flanked by Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Dr. Eric Hoskins and
Finance Minister Charles Sousa, Naqvi said the Ontario government is
at the beginning of what is expected to be a long process of
legalization, and it is committed to making the tough decisions now.

"In order to be ready for next July, our government will bring forward
legislation this fall to ensure that even after legalization, cannabis
remains a carefully controlled substance in Ontario," he said.

Naqvi said the government's key points of approach fall into two broad
categories including lawful use; that's the who, what and where can
cannabis be used, as well as the retail side of things; the how and
where cannabis can be sold.

"We know that a critical part of illuminating the illegal market is
developing a safe and sensible approach to retail," Naqvi said. "As we
build up a safe responsible channel for recreational cannabis, our
twin goals will be stopping the sale of illegal, unregulated and
unsafe cannabis."

He said, as with tobacco and alcohol, Ontarians aged 19 and over will
be allowed to purchase pot, yet if young teenagers are caught with a
small amount, officers will confiscate it rather than leave them with
life-long criminal records.

While the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit had called for 21 to be
the legal smoking age, the organization is largely satisfied by the
proposal from the province.

"On the whole, we're very pleased about the government's plans for
strong controls," said Dr. Lisa Simon, associate medical officer of
health.

"We're happy to see the announcement of a government-owned and
controlled system for access," she said.

As for where, Naqvi said current retail dispensaries are not legal and
that won't change under the new legislation.

Sousa spoke about the province's new working model that will use an
LCBO-style shop that will only sell one product.

"The experience in other jurisdictions, such as the United States, has
shown us that it is better to start with strong controls and evaluate
the system over time. Sousa said.

"Therefore the LCBO will establish separate and dedicated stand-alone
cannabis retail stores as well as online sales," he said.

The federal framework dictates the sale of cannabis must be behind the
counter and cannot be sold alongside alcohol, Sousa said.

Sousa said Ontario should see as many as 80 pot shops open by the end
of 2018 and another 70 opened by 2020.

The three Barrie marijuana stores that jumped the gun and opened in
2016 were just as abruptly shut down when the feds cracked down on the
retail side of things by instigating its Access to Cannabis for
Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR) which only allows
medical-marijuana patients to buy from licensed producers as of last
August.

Another area of concern is Sousa's statement that like alcohol and
tobacco, there will be a ban on smoking pot in public places.

While the health unit believes it's a step in the right direction,
Simon wonders where that will send the smokers.

"They're saying at this point that smoking and vaping of cannabis can
only be done in private settings; the only concern there is that
you're pushing all use indoors," Simon said. "Even if it's in a
private dwelling, second- and third-hand smoke is still a concern,
particularly if you live in a multi-unit dwelling - an apartment or a
condo - where you don't have a private outdoor space."

Tucked in behind the Five-Points intersection, Gillian and Chris Green
run a cafe and vape shop, where residents can vape a little weed with
their morning java.

According to Smoke-Free Ontario legislation, Gillian says as the
current rules don't prohibit people from vaping marijuana in their
establishment.

"The legislation states, 'by law you cannot smoke or hold lighted
tobacco in any enclosed workplace, any enclosed public places and
specifically designated outdoor places in Ontario'," Green said.
"Because marijuana is illegal, it wasn't included in the legislation,
so we've been able to operate here because there's no law that says we
can't."

As of Friday's announcement, Green said she believes they'll be
allowed to operate until Canada Day, and will fight to remain open
when the new rules come into effect next year.

Barrie Police Chief Kimberley Greenwood says she's concerned about the
over-use of cannabis in Barrie.

"The Barrie Police Service continues to see marihuana misuse on our
city streets which is worrisome," Greenwood said.

She wants more training for officers to enforce the new laws,
specifically concerning drug-impaired driving.
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MAP posted-by: Matt