Medical marijuana dispensaries 'verging on being out of control,' Mayor John Tory says

The proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries in Toronto is "verging on being out of control" in some neighourhoods, Mayor John Tory said Friday, hinting that the city may have to find a way to crack down on some pot shops.

Toronto mayor hints the city may have to find a way to curb the proliferation of pot shops

Toronto Mayor John Tory said Friday the proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries is threatening to affect the quality of life in some neighbourhoods. (David Donnelly/CBC)

The proliferation of medical marijuana dispensaries across Toronto neighourhoods is "verging on being out of control," Mayor John Tory said Friday, hinting that city officials may have to find a way to curb the growing number of pot shops. 

"I don't think it's sustainable for neighbourhoods, and for life in neighbourhoods that we want to be peaceful, quiet and law-abiding, to have 20, 21, 31 medical marijuana dispensaries," said Tory Friday. "You have to do these things in an orderly way that respects public safety and health and access to minors."

Tory said he spoke about the issue 10 days ago with Bill Blair, Toronto's former police chief and now parliamentary secretary to the justice minister. Blair is also the Liberal government's point man on pot legalization.

"If nothing is done … then I will be consulting our colleagues and officials about what we can do because this thing is verging on being out of control in some neighbourhoods," said Tory.

Tory made the comments while answering questions from reporters following a transit announcement Friday by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. 

Pot shops cropping up in numbers

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The federal government is moving to legalize and regulate the sale of marijuana. The legislation isn't expected to arrive until next year but shops have been cropping up across the city in an attempt to get a foothold in the local marketplace. 

Shops have appeared on the Danforth, in Kensington Market and on Dundas Street West. Tory said pot shops are showing up in "what I consider to be unacceptable numbers."

Earlier this week Mark Sraga, the city's director of investigation services for municipal licensing and standards, told CBC News the city plans to start enforcing legislation related to marijuana shops in the coming months.

"Our zoning bylaw does not permit medical marijuana dispensaries," Sraga said. Only facilities recognized by Health Canada are legally allowed to distribute medical marijuana and must do so via courier.

Despite this, CBC reporter David Common was able to buy marijuana from a Toronto dispensary, even without a doctor's note or prescription. 

Dispensaries selling medical marijuana are popping up across the city, and Mayor John Tory says he doesn't think the proliferation is 'a reflection of an increased demand for genuine medical marijuana prescriptions.' (Steve Dipaola/Reuters)