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Tory tells Wynne he wants more say in marijuana legalization

CHRISTINE CHUBB | posted Wednesday, Jul 19th, 2017

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FILE – Canadian cannabis producers say they are ramping up their operations to keep up with growing demand for medical marijuana and in anticipation of legislation that would allow for recreational use of the drug. Cannabis plants intended for the medical marijuana market grow at OrganiGram in Moncton, N.B., in an April 14, 2016, file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Ward, File
When it comes to selling legalized marijuana, Mayor John Tory says he wants to have a say in the matter.

Tory has penned a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne expressing concerns over how the province will manage the sale of marijuana once it has been given the green light.

Wynne has long supported the idea of putting the sale of marijuana into the hands of the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. She argues that  the LCBO has the experience and expertise to sell marijuana in a responsible way.

In his letter, Tory asked the premier to collaborate with cities and towns across Ontario, including Toronto, on retail regulations.

“For my own part as Mayor of Toronto, I have made it clear that while I support the legalization of marijuana, I do not think the people of Toronto would support the future widespread location of outlets for the sale of marijuana in residential neighbourhoods or in certain retailing areas,” Tory wrote.

The mayor also noted his concerns over how retail distribution would fit within the community.

“Not only do I have significant concerns about how any retail distribution will fit within our communities but I am also certain that a big part of the enforcement of these regulations will be on the shoulders of municipalities whether through licensing, zoning by-law enforcement or municipal policing.”

Tory said he also believes Toronto should have a say in the rules around smoking marijuana in public, how close retail marijuana sale should be from schools and community centres, safety regulations around growing the product, public education and law enforcement.

“As you know, local government plays an important role in every one of these areas so it is vital we be consulted before important provincial decisions are made.”

Last year, a Nanos poll conducted for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which represents LCBO workers, found that 40 per cent of Ontarians ranked the LCBO as the top spot for selling marijuana.

OPSEU president Warren “Smokey” Thomas agreed with the findings and believes recreational marijuana should be sold at the LCBO.

“The LCBO already sells a drug called alcohol, alcohol is a drug, and that was the deal with society way, way back when prohibition ended, was to sell it in a controlled way. So we just think it’s logical and safe for everybody to apply that logic to marijuana and sell it through the LCBO,” he said.

The federal government announced earlier this year that marijuana would be legalized across the country next summer.

With files from The Canadian Press

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