CANNABIS CULTURE – Fascinating how much municipal marijuana talk is taking place in the three weeks since announcing my cannabis-fueled mayoral campaign. Toronto City Councillors Adam Vaughan and Karen Stintz have proposed a positive med-pot policy during a planning and growth committee meeting.
City staff have been instructed to take a consumer-friendly approach – not a Negative Nancy approach – to writing a bylaw to conform with Health Canada’s MMPR.
To clarify, this is not the city’s review of marihuana vapour lounges that Cannabis Culture has covered.
The story initially caused some confusion, but the vapor lounge review is happening at the Municipal Licensing and Standards committee and this is taking place at the Planning and Growth Management committee.
People claim marijuana is not a mayoral issue, but we can expect more civic cannabis laws. Toronto has its own anti-grow bylaw passed by Rob Ford, but bylaws dealing with vapor lounges and medical marijuana are expected.
While some cities are balking at the idea of allowing MMPR businesses to operate within their limits, it appears Toronto is to be cannabis consumer-friendly. There are municipal requirements within the MMPR and a city open for business could thrive as a destination for operators.
Staff have created a bylaw to conform with the federal program, but it restricts a business to operating at least 70 metres from residential zoning. It doesn’t seem like a strong restriction at first, but it actually really is. Staff also made a mistake of not distinguishing between a facility that produces medical marihuana and one that distributes it.
Councilors Vaughan and Stintz should be commended for recognizing the amendments put a hamper on access. After all, these storefronts don’t have cannabis for sale because it’s against Health Canada’s MMPR to retail.
Councilor Vaughan wrongfully suggests these facilities could be used to distribute cannabis, “as long as they adhere to federal guidelines.” The MMPR regulations prevent businesses from distributing medical marihuana via retailing or a pharmacy model.
The Planning and Growth committee is deciding where a doctor or nurse practitioner specializing in cannabis may locate their office and where production facilities should be located. Given some cities don’t want legal marijuana grow-ops, it appears Toronto is growing in the opposite direction.
It’d be great if people could visit a retailer instead of getting their medicine in an unreliable mail system. A positive outlook from a city council like Toronto could convince Health Canada to re-exam this provision.
Our city would also benefit by having a “positive place to grow cannabis” outlook. However, given the high cost of renting large spaces in Toronto city limits, the costs might truly be unfeasible.
The issue returns to the planning and growth committee February 27 with a staff report and recommendations based on the councilors telling them to make Toronto medical cannabis consumer-friendly.
Interestingly, Karen Stintz is expected to announce she is running for mayor shortly.
Matt Mernagh is a regular contributor of the weird and crazy to Cannabis Culture. He is also running for Mayor of Toronto. His book, Marijuana Smoker’s Guidebook: The Easy Way To Identify and Enjoy Marijuana Strains is available via Amazon or iTunes.