Toronto

Toronto Mayor John Tory concerned about growing number of marijuana dispensaries

At a Wednesday morning news conference, Mayor John Tory expressed concern over the growing number of medical marijuana dispensaries in Toronto.

Mayor seeks guidance from federal government on dealing with potential pot legalization

Toronto Mayor John Tory says he is doubtful that the number of pot dispensaries popping up across the city is justified for the amount of people who require medical marijuana. (CBC News)

Mayor John Tory has expressed concerned over the growing number of medical marijuana dispensaries in downtown Toronto and is seeking clarity on what the city's role will be as the federal government considers legalizing pot.

"I'm sure some of this is happening in anticipation of [a] change of laws but it's happening in a way where we don't know how that law is going to work," Tory said at a Wednesday morning news conference.

"We can't just have the Wild West."

The mayor said he is doubtful that the number of pot dispensaries popping up across the city actually justifies the number of Torontonians that require medical marijuana.

"Most people are sensible enough, including me, to know that this is not happening directly in response to a burgeoning need of marijuana," he said. 

Tory is also seeking direction from the federal government and Liberal MP Bill Blair, who is leading the efforts around marijuana legalization, on how the city can prepare on a municipal level.

"I would hope that Mr. Blair, in the course of his examination, will take an early look at the steps that will be taken [and that] guidance can be given to us … to make sure that things are happening across the board in an orderly way," he said. 

The number of storefront dispensaries in Toronto has been on the rise for some time, and many of them 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. 

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

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.

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