These 3 federal marijuana recommendations could be key for Toronto
Task force suggests rules be placed around where drug can be smoked
Toronto has a slightly better picture of how legal weed will work in the city after a task force appointed by the Canadian government released its recommendations Tuesday in Ottawa.
The major highlights included a proposed rule that pot sales should be restricted to those 18 and older, with a personal possession limit of 30 grams.
However, some of the recommendations will matter more in this city than elsewhere in Canada, including:
Avoid co-location with alcohol whenever possible
Premier Kathleen Wynne had suggested legal marijuana could be sold at LCBO stores, suggesting it already has a distribution network and would be able to sell pot in a socially responsible way.
However, a recommendation from the task force that marijuana and liquor not be made available at the same place seems to go against that idea.
Limits on density and location of storefronts including proximity to schools, parks
Some parts of Toronto, such as parts of Queen Street West and Danforth Avenue, have seen a huge number of dispensaries popping up. While the task force hasn't said how far apart dispensaries should be, it's possible this rule will lead to some shops closing down.
The task force also recommends having dedicated storefronts for marijuana sales and also setting up a direct mail system.
Allow dedicated places to consume marijuana, like cannabis lounges
Toronto recently banned hookah bars, where patrons gathered to smoke flavoured tobacco from water pipes, so it's unclear how this recommendation will work in the city.
However, some city councillors have called for a hookah lounge permit that would allow cafes that don't sell alcohol to let those over 19 smoke there.
Restrictions on smoking tobacco and vaping, meanwhile, should be extended, according to the task force.
Should the city 'wait and see' or get ahead of issue?
Dispensaries continue to operate across the city, though according to the city they're not permitted to do so. Toronto police have raided several dispensaries, though it's unclear how many of the charges laid in connection with those busts will stick.
At city hall, some councillors said they're eager to get moving on implementing the new recommendations and to end the uncertainty around the industry.
"We need to get out in front of it," said Coun. Jim Karygiannis.
He called the raids "nonsense."
Coun. Paula Fletcher, meanwhile, said she also wants marijuana legalized, with clear regulations about how it can be distributed.
However Tracey Cook, the executive director of the city's municipal licensing and standards division, said it's still "wait and see."
The federal government still has to choose which of the task force recommendations it wants to keep.
"We're not passing the buck … we're being true to the laws that are on the books," she said.
The federal government has promised to table legislation in spring of 2017, but it could take much more time for the bill to be studied and eventually passed into law.
With files from Trevor Dunn