Toronto Board of Health says “Decriminalize now”

On June 12, 2017, Toronto’s Board of Health voted unanimously to “immediately decriminalize the possession of non-medical cannabis for personal use” on the recommendation of Dr. Eileen de Villa, the Medical Officer of Health for Toronto.

The board also endorsed her proposals that the minimum age to buy cannabis in Ontario be set at 19 which puts it on the same page as alcohol, and also supported her call for equity training for cannabis law enforcement to ensure fair treatment of groups already disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.

Finally, common sense prevails! Is this a sign of things to come? Only time will tell because whether or not the federal government will heed their call is still up in the air since PM Trudeau has not only asked police to continue enforcing the current laws up until legalization, he has said the Liberals will not decriminalize in the lead up to it.

I think the question to ask here is “Why ruin more lives, especially when it will be legal in a year?”.

This question was one of the main reasons for Dr. de Villa’s recommendations to the board as she wrote “a significant number of young Canadians will continue to obtain criminal charges before cannabis is legalized” in a late May report.

Is the government’s refusal to decriminalize cannabis just one last hurrah for Prohibition as Bill Blair throws a bone to his buddies in law enforcement? 

Also, it’s worth noting that in the name of protecting health and minimizing the harms of use, not everything the Toronto Board of Health supports is going to make cannabis businesses or enthusiasts happy- the board also wants strict controls on marketing and advertising (such as plain packaging) and the regulation of edibles (including setting maximum amounts of THC and banning products that may be too appealing to children).