Owners of Queens of Cannabis want regulations for medical pot dispensaries

The owners of Cannabis Queens dispensary want Toronto to start regulating their business, along with all the other medical pot dispensaries in the city, as soon as possible.

Dispensaries technically illegal, but Toronto police won't go after them unless there's a complaint

Tania Lungo, co-owner of the Queens of Cannabis dispensary, says she wants dispensaries to be regulated so that consumers are protected. (Metro Morning/CBC)

The owners of Queens of Cannabis dispensary want Toronto to start regulating their business, along with all the other medical marijuana dispensaries in the city, as soon as possible.

The thing is that might be a bit tricky.

Medical marijuana dispensaries are currently illegal in Canada — the only way to buy it legally is by mail through a licensed supplier. Despite that, Toronto police have said that they won't go after a dispensary unless there's a complaint. The federal government is currently working towards legalizing and regulating marijuana.

Tania Lungo and Brandy Zurburg, co-owners of the Queens of Cannabis dispensary on Bloor Street West near Christie Pits park, said that they want dispensaries to be regulated so that consumers are protected. 
Brandy Zurburg, co-owner of the Queens of Cannabis dispensary, has a medical marijuana prescription and says that she and Lungo started their business to provide more reliable access for others with prescriptions. (Metro Morning/CBC)

"Everything should be lab-tested and have potency and direction so that people know how to use the product," Lungo told CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Wednesday.

Queens of Cannabis opened two months ago and sells more than a dozen types of marijuana, edible marijuana products and cannabis creams.

Lungo and Zurburg both have medical cannabis prescriptions and said that they started their business to provide a service to others that use the drug for medicinal purposes. Their store has a policy to only sell to customers aged 25 and up when filling prescriptions, and they said that staff always check IDs.

"We make sure everyone has a prescription and we're definitely paying our taxes," said Lungo. "Everyone's been very positive about [the dispensary]. We actually get visits from neighbours every week. They come in and say hello."

City councillor wants all dispensaries shut down

The number of storefront dispensaries in Toronto has been on the rise for some time, and many of them, like Queens of Cannabis, have set up shop downtown in the past year. That increase has at least one member of city council calling on the police to shut down all of the dispensaries to enforce the current laws. 
Coun. Joe Cressy says Toronto needs to shut down all marijuana dispensaries to keep up with the laws as they currently stand. (CBC)

"These are — every single one of them — illegal," said Coun. Joe Cressy, who represents Ward 20 (Trinity-Spadina) and heads the Toronto Drug Strategy Implementation Panel.  

"Just as if overnight we had 15 new bars open up, or as if overnight we had 15 new dispensaries open up, that changes the character of a neighbourhood, so that is a concern," said Cressy.

In a statement provided to CBC News, Cressy added that he supports the federal government's commitment to "put in place a legalized regulatory framework for cannabis."

"Access to medicinal marijuana, a service critical for many of our friends and neighbours, is also a key part of this process," Cressy said in the statement. "A comprehensive approach is required."

Cressy added that once the new legislation from the federal government is in place, "the city will move quickly to apply it to our context." But until then, he said, a federal law is in place and is enforceable. 

Lungo and Zurburg say that dispensaries like theirs are actually reducing the stigma around medical marijuana.

The co-owners of Queens of Cannabis said that they've worked hard to create a "bright and friendly" store with glass windows so people can see what's going on inside and have vowed to hire knowledgeable staff.

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