Through an amazing act of unity, the leaders of the three major parties in Ontario stand together to demand some sort of direction from the Trudeau government on its hazy plans towards legalizing marijuana. Despite the gestures of announcing legislation by spring of 2017, establishing a task force, and building an online opening for Canadians to share their views, the ultimate framework for cannabis regulation remains unclear.
Ontario Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown, and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath join forces during a session at Queen’s Park to get some clarity on where things stand in the process of legalizing marijuana. Ontario so far has been a war zone between the cannabis community and law enforcement. This is largely because of the rapid growth and development of marijuana dispensaries across Toronto and other parts of the province. Because of a lack of direction from the federal government, Ontario legislators have simply made the decision that there is no legal vacuum for dispensaries to operate.
A complete opposite and more progressive outlook is coming from provinces like British Columbia, where officials have learned to work with dispensaries by establishing zoning bylaws that permit them to exist under a set of rules. This move has been deemed by the cannabis community and reemphasized by the media as a much more collaborative approach than actions like Project Claudia, one of the largest police raids in Canadian history.
Claudia’s show of unnecessary restraint has been widely considered by citizens and government officials as a huge waste of public money that did very little to stop dispensaries, which simply reopened for business the following week. This appeal to the federal government on behalf of the leaders of Ontario comes on the heels of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce publicly asking Premier Wynne to permit recreational marijuana to be sold by private retailers licensed and authorized by the government.
Opponents of marijuana legalization are criticizing the government for taking their time, adding that this slow process is allowing for a “Wild West” style scenario, where businesses can seemingly operate with no regulation. Those who stand for legalizing marijuana, on the other hand, want the feds to speed things up in order for cannabis businesses to know how to operate once they learn the rules.