New law likely to shut­ter pot shops

Cannabis sales to be han­dled by sub­sidiary of LCBO af­ter leg­is­la­tion passes, Wynne says

Toronto Star - - CANADA - ROBERT BEN­ZIE QUEEN’S PARK BUREAU CHIEF

On­tario’s forth­com­ing cannabis leg­is­la­tion should spell the end of the il­le­gal mar­i­juana “dis­pen­saries” that are still op­er­at­ing, warns Premier Kath­leen Wynne.

At­tor­ney Gen­eral Yasir Naqvi will ta­ble a bill on Wed­nes­day that will out­line the pro­vin­cial rules sur­round­ing recre­ational mar­i­juana when the fed­eral gov­ern­ment le­gal­izes cannabis next July 1.

The premier said Mon­day there would be no sur­prises in the new law, which will re­strict weed con­sump­tion to those19 and older and con­fine its use to pri­vate homes.

“It will lay out more de­tails around es­sen­tially the frame­work that we have talked about, and, you know, as we said, the (re­tail) en­tity will be a sub­sidiary of the LCBO,” she told re­porters. “We will have more clar­ity then about ex­actly what we have to im­ple­ment go­ing for­ward.”

Wynne said she hoped that, once the leg­is­la­tion is passed, it would elim­i­nate any am­bi­gu­ity about the store­front cannabis shops op­er­at­ing around the province.

“Our ex­pec­ta­tion is that those dis­pen­saries will be shut down, be­cause we are go­ing to be putting a new frame­work in place and the leg­is­la­tion will make that clear,” the premier said.

Asked why the il­le­gal pot shops are still open for busi­ness, she said: “That’s a con­ver­sa­tion that we need to have with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and with law en­force­ment.

“But I be­lieve that, as it be­comes clearer what the rules are go­ing to be, I think it will make it eas­ier for mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to take ac­tion.”

Queen’s Park will give com­mu­ni­ties a say in where the 150 stand-alone LCBO-op­er­ated cannabis shops will be lo­cated in or­der to keep them a safe distance from schools.

In a pre­sen­ta­tion Mon­day at a St. Michael’s Hospi­tal sym­po­sium on mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion, for­mer at­tor­ney gen­eral Michael Bryant ex­pressed con­cern about the im­pact on chil­dren and youth. Bryant noted there is al­ready a “treat­ment deficit for kids with drug or al­co­hol de­pen­dence” in the province.

“I sense lit­tle pub­lic pres­sure to kick a ro­bust pub­lic health and ed­u­ca­tion pol­icy into gear,” he said.

“So many dol­lar signs in our eyes . . . we can’t see that quiet, iso­lated, an­gry, fear­ful kid in the corner who needs our help.”

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