How far away from schools do we want pot?

Toron­to­nian starts pe­ti­tion, runs for trustee in ef­fort to pro­tect chil­dren from mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion

Richmond Hill Post - - News - by Ron John­son

Af­ter the elec­tion of Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion was a given. It was com­ing, the only thing left were the de­tails. And this is what con­cerns Toronto na­tive Sharon Kerr. She wanted to make sure that any mar­i­juana sales was lo­cated far from schools and started a pe­ti­tion to drive home her point, www.puttingstu­dents­first.ca.

Have you been in con­tact with mem­bers of Toronto City Coun­cil and Premier Wynne? And have they pro­vided a pol­icy re­sponse to your pe­ti­tion?

I have writ­ten to all of the lo­cal city coun­cil­lors in the Scar­bor­ough com­mu­nity coun­cil area, ask­ing them to take ac­tion on be­half of the par­ents and fam­i­lies here. I will be send­ing the same re­quest to the re­main­ing 34 city coun­cil­lors in­clud­ing Mayor John Tory. Only coun­cil­lor Jim Kary­gian­nis has re­sponded thus far. He told me he will be mov­ing mo­tions in keep­ing with the re­quest for a school-area ban.

How many sig­na­tures have you re­ceived so far?

It’s been a whirl­wind of ac­tiv­ity. I have teams of par­ents — I call them the mom brigade — who have been gath­er­ing sig­na­tures. We are at about 600 sig­na­tures so far, and we have re­ceived about 200 of those on­line.

When le­gal­iza­tion comes to Toronto, do you think the LCBO is in the best po­si­tion to of­fer the prod­ucts for sale?

I don’t know where the sale of recre­ational mar­i­juana should be lo­cated. I just know that par­ents tell me they don’t want it near their chil­dren’s school. My pe­ti­tion calls for a pro­hi­bi­tion of at least 500 me­tres away from schools and recre­ation cen­tres.

The le­gal age will likely vary from prov­ince to prov­ince. Do you think it should be the same age as drink­ing al­co­hol, 19 or 18 or 21, like in the United States?

Just like I can’t think of any good age to start smok­ing cig­a­rettes, I can’t re­ally an­swer that ques­tion. The ef­fects of THC, the ac­tive in­gre­di­ent in mar­i­juana, on the de­vel­op­ing brain is ex­tremely neg­a­tive. I am not try­ing to be alarmist, but I don’t know of any par­ent who would sanc­tion their child 18 or 19 years old in­dulging in pot smok­ing. My hus­band and I worked very hard to see our two kids go to univer­sity. Smok­ing recre­ational mar­i­juana will not con­trib­ute to their aca­demic suc­cess. I want my own kids study­ing so they can achieve to their abil­ity. I want the same for all stu­dents in the Toronto District School Board, which is why I’m run­ning for trustee.

Should On­tario ban the sale of ed­i­bles, such as pot can­dies, that have raised con­cerns re­gard­ing young peo­ple?

Yes! Par­ents need to know that recre­ational mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion will bring all the so­cial ills of big to­bacco but with the in­tox­i­cat­ing ef­fects of al­co­hol. Mar­ket­ing to young peo­ple is what we used to see with to­bacco prod­ucts. I fear that, if we don’t get out in front of the politi­cians, we will have big trou­ble. Hun­dreds of re­tail­ers will start sell­ing it and the politi­cians will say, “Oh we can’t stop this; it’s too pop­u­lar now.” Al­though pro­po­nents say pot is “less harm­ful” than al­co­hol, I don’t know any­one who got harmed from liv­ing a drug-free life.

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