Since the announcement of pending cannabis legalization made by the Liberal government April 20, 2016 Canada has seen more cannabis enforcement than any other time in its history.
Canadian cities and provinces seem to be at a loss for what to do about the vastly expanding cannabis businesses. On May 26th the City of Toronto responded with Project Claudia — carrying out a series unprecedented raids resulting in the arrests of 90 people and nearly 200 trafficking related charges. The Toronto Municipal Licensing and Standards office also issued nearly 80 charges related to bylaw infractions throughout the same period.
None of these actions seem to be working, while some dispensaries have closed their doors voluntarily and others have been evicted by wary landlords Toronto is still home to over 60 thriving cannabis shops.
The reality for Toronto is that this type of enforcement is not the answer. Why? Because there is a demand for cannabis storefronts and their actions are not discouraging patients who don’t want to wait for their medicine to show up in the mail. The industry and its customers are asking for licensing and regulations.
It would seem that the answer is to create and enforce a set of standards while we wait for the federal government to provide us with set regulations as we move forward with recreational cannabis legalization.
The stigma accompanying prohibition is holding The City of Toronto back by wasting money on raids with an already strained budget instead of benefitting from the tax revenues that would succeed the licensing and regulation of this already thriving industry. Our public transit is falling apart, our roads are in need of constant repair, police assistance can sometimes take up to 24 hours, and the city health inspectors are at a shortage . Should raiding dispensaries and fining landlords and tax paying business owners what The City of Toronto should be spending their efforts on?
With an industry potentially worth $5-billion a year in the Greater Toronto Area alone, shouldn’t we be collecting taxes to invest in our city?