Toronto should be leading, not scrambling
Cannabis culture will provide tourism and cultural revenue
Last month, Prime Minister Trudeau got the marijuana ball rolling, introducing bills that pave the way for legalization by July 2018.
What is surprising is the disconnect between what is happening in Ottawa and Toronto. Nobody seems to want to take responsibility: not the federal government, not city council and certainly not Toronto Police Service.
It is absurd that a dispensary in the business of selling cannabis can legally lease a building, open a business, hire staff, pay business taxes, pay income tax to Canada Revenue Agency, and TPS can still break down doors and cart these people off, with criminal records and potential prison time.
If they know these operations are illegal, why take the tax revenue? That is just one question.
According to the government’s own panel, it is up to the province to decide the distribution mechanism at the retail level, and it might just be dispensaries. So why not take the opportunity for a test run?
Vancouver took the bold step of establishing rules governing dispensaries to fill in the gap until the distribution framework under legalization is established.
This makes sense. Why are we, a purportedly world-class city, acting like a two-bit backwater still scared of the
Reefer Madness bogeyman? Neighbourhood residents have expressed everything from concern to outrage regarding the presence of dispensaries, most of which are closed in short order. Fair and legal. But if the city got off its collective keister and established rules for governing these places, we as a progressive city could decide how close to schools they could be, what hours of operation would work in what areas, what equipment could or could not be used or how staff need to be trained. Heck, we could send in a slew of city bylaw officers. In turn, dispensaries would be out of excuses and benefit from clarity.
The Junction neighbourhood in the city wasn’t even allowed access to the demon liquor until the year 2000. Yes, you read that correctly. But now it seems to be the centre of the city’s craft beer universe, providing a serious economic boon for the nowtrendy neighbourhood.
Drinking alcohol has been legal for less than a century, but we’ve managed to maintain a semblance of order since then. We will be just fine.
And as our marijuana columnist, Ljubica Kostovic, tells us in her column, legalization might provide a large increase in tourism business in addition to providing more cultural opportunities. It’s a brave new world. It’s time to start getting ahead of the curve.
Activist Marc Emery (right) at Post City’s 2016 marijuana roundtable