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Should Toronto regulate dispensaries?

Napoleon

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#1
I'm starting to wonder if the city of Toronto needs to regulate dispensaries. Just in my immediate neighbourhood, two have opened in the last two weeks, 100 meters from each other!

There is now a dispensary at 1271 Dundas St. W. and another one at 1245 Dundas St. W. This is only 94 meters apart.


But don't worry, if those are too busy, there's another new one on Ossington just south of Dundas and another further west on Dundas near Dufferin. Oh, and a few more sprinkled on Dundas before you even get to the half dozen in Kensington Market.

Now, I have no issue with people smoking pot, but this is getting a little bit out of control. I think it might be time for the city to step in regulate the number/density of dispensaries.
 
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#2
^until pot use is legalized, the proper form of regulation is to close them down and arrest the owners and the employees.

It is an illegal activity and it amazes me that it is allowed to happen at all.....once it is legalized (if it is) and rules are established for its distribution...sure open them up according to those rules....but that has not happened yet.
 

Euphoria

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#4
Yes, there should be regulations for the obvious reasons: quality control, separation from minors, etc. I also see the allure of the city imposing taxation. I do worry, though, that having high licensing fees for dispensaries will price all but the biggest players out of the supply side, which means big agri and big pharma get bigger, while the small producer who is seizing an opportunity to get ahead shuts down. It comes down to this: I'd rather support the micro-brewer or cottage industry small-batch producer than Interbrew or Seagram's. Increasingly I'm getting the sense that what's really going on is that those with deep pockets are poised to weather the costs of the regulations and licensing hurdles. The little guy is not. I hope that when recreational pot is legalized, people are allowed to grow up to certain number of plants themselves, as is the case in Colorado. I also don't like this business of a two-tier fee, lower for medical users and higher for recreational, because everyone knows that these medical user licenses are being handed out left and right, and I don't have an issue with that. The moment that people could get a pot medical license for things like stress and back trouble, I knew that this business of trying to set up a barrier where some could use on medical grounds was a farce. Basically, if you're an adult, you should have as much access to pot as any medical user, and you should be paying the same fee for it. The only reason for having the two-tier pricing is that medical users will argue that their meds shouldn't be heavily taxed on health grounds. In that case the bar needs to be raised on what constitutes a medical user, as no doubt governments can't wait to tax the hell out of recreational weed. And big business can't wait to sell to this massive and growing new market. I'd prefer that the dispensaries are only regulated around quality of product and separation from minors. Otherwise, leave the producers, sellers, and consumers alone. Leave out the tax grab and cronyism that have been so prevalent since Prohibition.
 

ttk77

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#5
It's sad that the city isn't taking any real leadership on this issue. Not only is it a waste of money, all they're doing by closing up the shops and arresting people is putting the trade back in the hands of the street dealers and associated organized crime. If our local elected officials had any sense they'd be setting up a system similar to what they've been putting together in Vancouver.

I also can't help but wonder if the province has a hand in how things are going down in Toronto. Wynne clearly wants the LCBO to be in charge of distribution which will be a lot harder to implement if an industry is already established around individual dispensaries.
 

Skeezix

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#6
With the Feds having put Bill Blair and Anne McLellan in charge of the legalization process, the end result is unlikely to be "anything goes". We are likely to see a federal framework which still has some restrictions (most likely on the growing and distribution end, maybe even in terms of possesssion). And while Ottawa has exclusive jurisdiction over criminal law (and, to the extent interprovincial and/or international trade of marijuana is an issue, also over trade & commerce and borders), and Ottawa and the Provinces have a shared jurisdiction over health, it is the Provinces which have exclusive jurisdiction over property and civil rights. And the current Ontario government has made clear that it sees room for only one retail outlet for marijuana in this province - likely the LCBO. To the extent that the sale of liquor and beer is tightly controlled in this province, it seems unlikely that Queen's Park will be allowing mom-and-pop pot dispensaries to serve the recreational marijuana market. It would be odd if we could legally buy weed in Ontario way more easily than, say, a wine cooler.

There is a good possibility that medical marijuana will end up being treated differently. To the extent someone has a valid prescription, there could potentially be a different sales tax treatment (as compared to the "sin tax" levels of tax most people anticipate will be imposed on recreational pot) and a different distribution model (i.e. pharmacies - the very thought gives Galen Weston an erection - and possibly some sort of regulated clinic/compassion club model).

So, based on what we know today, there is a good chance that at some point, we will be able to buy a (controlled) amount of taxed recreational pot at the LCBO, and we will also be able to take a prescription over to Shoppers Drug Mart to buy less expensive pot to treat our various ailments. But that's just an educated guess based on the signals coming from Ottawa and Queen's Park - it's all still up in the air.

And while the City's approach to the marijuana issue has been conservative, reactive and relatively knee-jerk to date, on this one issue I don't really blame them. The explosive growth of dispensaries was not in keeping with current law, was completely unregulated, and was almost undoubtedly not going to be the legal model for pot sales once legalization occurs. The City has so many competing priorities for its time and resources - a fractious debate over a new regulatory model for dispensaries, all of which is likely to soon be cast aside by federal and provincial law, is simply not a useful effort.
 
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#7
^the final paragraph is important...from pure observation, it would appear to me that the growth in dispensaries was precisely because the owners/operators knew that was not going to be the model and the plan was all about "get opened...get established....get grandfathered out of sympathy for 'small business owners' "......it could take years for Ottawa/Ontario to decide how this will work....and, in the meantime, there is a responsibility to enforce the current law as written.
 

ttk77

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#8
I don't disagree with the assertion that dispensaries are trying to get their foot in the door before legislation is enacted, but I still take issue with the recent police enforcement. For one, if you take the position that it is their responsibility to enforce the law as written then they should be arresting all the pot users out there too. Pot possession is still illegal, but it's very rare for someone to get arrested on possession charges unless they're otherwise causing a nuisance.

Another reason as I stated above is that closing these places down is just putting the business back in the hands of street dealers. You have no idea what you're buying from them (it could be cut with something far more dangerous), and it's more likely that the profits are going into the pockets of organized crime. It is quite possible that closing these places down is making the communities around them less safe, and then you get into an ethical dilemma of what's more important to the police...keeping communities safe or following the letter of the law.
 
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#9
^3 points:
  1. historically (yes I am old) the complaint has always been that the courts/jails are clogged by people busted for "having nothing more than a joint" and the suggestion was that police should go after the dealers....not the users....perhaps what you are saying is an issue is simply police "listening" to those historic complaints.
  2. with regards to the quality/content of the product (and the resultant safety of it) what is controlling that in these dispensaries that have popped up? (this is an honest question)....you seem sure that the same mixing/cutting that can take place with a street dealer could never take place in the businesses that are springing up.
  3. as to organized crime.....are we 100% sure that none of these seemingly respectable small businesses are not just fronts for the same people you fear control the street dealers?
The fact remains, these businesses have popped up with the promise of a new legislative/control framework without knowing what that framework is and while the old "its illegal" framework still exists.
 

ttk77

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#10
I have no doubt it is the police, and the mayor, listening to complaints like those, and the atmosphere here in Toronto seems to be far more conservative than over in Vancouver when it comes to situations like this.

You're also right that there is no guarantee that the dispensaries are selling good product or that they're not associated with organized crime, but unlike the street dealers they do seem to be making an attempt at legitimate business. They'll be wanting to keep their noses as clean as they can if they want to be taken seriously when it comes to determining who gets the right to sell the stuff when it becomes legalized. I believe they're business men and women trying to get a foothold in a new and soon to be legal industry and I can't really fault them for that.

I'm not saying that we should leave it as a free-for-all here. There definitely needs to be a regulatory framework. I just find our councillors' decision to defer any talks on this to the fall to be lacking vision and foresight.

I never in my life thought I'd actually agree with something that Jim Karygiannis was pushing :(
 

Filip

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#11
What about the absolutely DUMB idea of selling pot in the LCBO? Wynne and whoever is supporting that are out to lunch!

1) Alcohol and pot DO NOT MIX. Toxicologically they are dangerous together. Remember the saying... Weed before beer you're in the clear, beer before grass you're on your ass!

2) Surprisingly many recovering alcoholics go to weed instead. Great place to have them purchase their bud...

I mean personally, legalize it, and I do not care where you sell it. Make it expensive/complicated for me? My guy is just down the street. It being legal means I'm not worried about possession charges.
 

ttk77

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#12
Yes, I also think the LCBO is a bad place for it, and I don't think the government has put much thought into the matter. It looks like only about 20% of Ontarians agree that the LCBO should be the ones to sell it. If they don't try to build their distribution model after how people want to buy it then it's going to be a failure from the start. It's a lot easier to grow a plant than produce a bottle of beer, wine or spirits so any thoughts about government control are going to be illusion at best.

I also don't understand why they think they need to re-invent the wheel when they can be learning from the successes and failures of other jurisdictions that have already legalized.