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Mayor Tory calls for continued crackdown on illegal marijuana dispensaries

NEWS STAFF | posted Wednesday, Jun 14th, 2017

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Toronto Mayor John Tory believes the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use should have been decriminalized “years ago” but says Toronto police should continue to target illegal dispensaries across the city.

Tory’s comments Tuesday came a day after the Toronto board of health voted in favour of the immediate decriminalization of marijuana. It also recommended a legal age of 19.

“I very much favour, as soon as possible, the notion that people should not have a criminal record for simple possession of small amounts of marijuana. That’s something that should have been done years ago,” Tory said from city hall on Tuesday, where he was hosting a delegation of politicians from Dallas.

The mayor seemed fine with the board of health’s recommended age of 19 once marijuana is officially legal. The federal government has recommended a legal age of 18, giving provinces their own leeway.

“That’s the age of alcohol so maybe it should be the same age,” he said.

But Tory said Toronto police should remain vigilant when it comes to the slew of dispensaries that have leapfrogged the legal process.

“I’m much more concerned … with people who are assuming that the new rules are in place or there aren’t going to be any rules and that these shops continue to pop up in neighbourhoods.”

“That is not something that has been legalized,” he maintained. “The federal government has said nothing about having some wide network of shops on every street corner pop up to sell marijuana.”

“That’s why I support police continuing to enforce that law.”

Tory said he was “less concerned” with the enforcement of possession laws, but said he’d like to see Toronto police take a consistent approach.

“They should not be charging one person on one street, and not charging somebody else,” he stressed, adding that how the law is enforced is “a decision the police have to make and not me.”

“I’m expressing concern today about the marijuana shops and the fact that they are proliferating again in the city … I’ve expressed that to the police chief and to our zoning people.”

“I would hope that there might be continued vigilance and diligence with respect to the enforcement of the laws, both zoning laws and criminal laws.”

The federal government has tabled legislation to legalize and regulate marijuana for recreational use. It is expected to pass by July 1, 2018.

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