Councilor Jim Karygiannis says he wants to stop the city’s crackdown on medical marijuana dispensaries.
He is slamming police raids of marijuana dispensaries in the city as a waste of taxpayers’ money. “That was money that was not well-spent,” Coun. Jim Karygiannis said Monday in response to last week’s raids. “It was a knee-jerk reaction because of a couple hundred emails.”
The councilor was joined by marijuana advocates ahead of a municipal licensing and standards committee meeting Monday.
“…when you put the amount of police officers at $60 to $70 an hour, and the bylaw officers at $50 an hour — that’s quite a substantial amount. That was not money well spent,” he added.
Karygiannis said to do that he’ll introduce a motion at the next Licensing and Standards committee meeting that would call on city staff to defer study of regulating and enforcement around the dispensaries until after the federal government sets the rules for marijuana legalization.
23 people were arrested in police raids of four marijuana dispensaries, prompting pot advocates to speak out against those actions. “I have a lot of respect for the police chief and the way he thinks,” the councilor said, but added that when it comes to the raids, “we don’t see eye-to-eye.”
Karygiannis said the city is wasting valuable resources cracking down on the dispensaries.
In a letter sent to the committee last month, Mayor John Tory asked the executive director of Municipal Licensing and Standards Tracey Cook to work with the chief medical officer of health and the Toronto Police Service to provide recommendations on how to deal with the growing number of pot dispensaries in the city.
“I understand dispensaries shouldn’t be close to schools or other educational institutions,” he said, “but we need to have regulations and we need them now. These police raids are a waste of resources.”
“We respect the federal government’s decision to legalize possession of marijuana for non-medical purposes. Going forward, the city has a responsibility to ensure this emerging industry operates responsibly, without a negative impact on the health and safety of our residents and neighborhoods,” the mayor’s letter read.
Canada’s Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, which allows mail-only distribution to patients by federally licensed providers, were struck down in February by a federal court judge. Ottawa has until August to draft new rules in line with the Charter and is expected to propose a framework for recreational pot legalization next year. Members of the public who attended the committee meeting today hoping to share their views on marijuana dispensaries were disappointed to learn that the item had been deferred until October.
It is not yet clear how many search warrants were executed but police were seen seizing large quantities of marijuana products from locations across the city.Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders will present the results of the raids and the total number of charges laid with city staff at a press conference Friday morning.