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Toronto Mayor Says Dispensaries Are Almost 'Out Of Control'

The mayor of Canada's largest city says the medical marijuana dispensaries are "verging on being out of control."

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

In the last few years, the national media focus has been primarily on Vancouver, as its city government grappled with ways to manage the growth of an industry that is still illegal in the eyes of the federal government, which only permits the sale and distribution of medical marijuana through a mail-order system supplied by licensed producers.

Vancouver has begun the process of regulating and reducing the number of dispensaries, of which there were as many as 160 before most were ordered to shut down last weekend.

Toronto is now facing similar issues with approximately 60 dispensaries, which are mostly located in the downtown core.

"We can't just have the Wild West," Mayor John Tory said last month during a press conference.

But Toronto's municipal government has said it doesn't plan to to raid or regulate dispensaries. Instead, they'll begin a crackdown by punishing all 60 or so locations with bylaw infractions, Mark Sraga, the city's Director of Investigation Services for Municipal Licensing and Standards, told CBC News earlier this week.

"Our zoning bylaw does not permit medical marijuana dispensaries," said Sraga. "Having [dispensaries] in a retail, residential, mixed-use environment is not what the federal government envisioned or entailed through [its medical marijuana] regulations."

Sraga said the city will take the next six to eight weeks to investigate the dispensaries and issue warnings about the bylaw infraction before handing out fines. The maximum fine individuals violating the city's bylaws can receive is $50,000 while corporations can be hit with a fine of up to $100,000. But Sraga says dispensaries won't likely be hit with those tickets for their first offence.

Tory's latest comments seem to indicate that may not be enough to curb what he sees is a pressing problem - perhaps an "out of control" problem.

h/t CBC News.

banner image: Shutterstock / rmnoa357


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