Dispensaries and cannabis shop owners are planning a major push back against new city regulations that impose massive fines for simply existing.
The current landscape in Toronto for medical marijuana dealers is a lot like the wild west; a new frontier where the system exists on a grey line between recent decriminalization, and the substance becoming legal by the federal government. But while the country’s medical and habitual marijuana users wait in limbo while Trudeau’s government creates a workable system to legalize the drug, the country’s most populated city has become a breeding ground for medical marijuana dispensaries and vape shops – Toronto.
Last week Mayor John Tory, concerned about the growing population of weed shops in Toronto, wrote a letter to the executive director of municipal licensing and standards, Tracey Cook, to review the current operating regulations surrounding dispensaries.
Here is the letter I wrote the Exec Director of City's MLS division regarding marijuana dispensaries in Toronto. pic.twitter.com/VUmnqlpeOV
— John Tory (@JohnTory) May 12, 2016
“Over the past few months, residents and businesses in different parts of Toronto have raised concerns about the rising number of marijuana dispensaries opening in their neighbourhoods. The speed with which these storefronts are proliferating, and the concentration of dispensaries in some areas of our city, is alarming.”
This resulted in a new set of rules that could fine dispensaries up to $50,000 for operating, prompting the Cannabis Friendly Business Association to gather for a meeting at the Hotbox Cafe in Kensington. Business owners, entrepreneurs, consultants and lobbyists all joined together to propose a way to fight back against Tory’s fines.
“We could filibuster it, so to speak,” said Marko Ivancicevic according to The Globe and Mail, proposing to deluge the city’s meeting Thursday with Toronto’s top doctor who will be speaking on the health implications of cannabis.
Toronto preparing for marijuana dispensary crackdown via /r/toronto https://t.co/FKtmOVo8kb
— James A. Hess (@JamesAHess) May 13, 2016
Criminal lawyer Paul Lewin said: “People are going to fight these fines. By and large, many of these people have been left alone for 25 years, and this is a terrible way to start conversation. It’s bone-headed and mean-spirited.”
It wasn’t until the wave of recent cannabis shops that raised concern from the city, even though there’s been many businesses operating legally in the city for decades. According to TO Dispensaries, there are currently about 90 dispensaries operating in the city.
The problem, many say, is that John Tory isn’t educated enough when it comes to cannabis. “There are a lot of people who are cannabis naive,” Alexzander Samuelsson of The Big Toke said. “But we’ll change that,” added Harrison Jordan, also of The Big Smoke.
That’s why, as Ms. Roach said at the meeting, “It’s time to lobby,” not protest.
Main image courtesy Dank Depot via Flickr