Toronto Mayor Asks Staff To Begin Looking at Dispensary Regulation

Toronto mayor John Tory released an open letter to staff this morning, calling for investigations to begin into regulation of the city’s growing cannabis dispensary industry.

“Residents and businesses in different parts of Toronto have raised concerns about the rising number of marijuana dispensaries opening in their neighbourhoods,” Tory wrote. “The speed with which these storefronts are proliferating, and the concentration of dispensaries in some areas of our city, is alarming.”

Tory said in order to prevent a negative impact on the health and safety of residents and neighbourhoods, Toronto needs to create a framework for the businesses and also halt their uncontrolled growth.

Toroto Hotbox dispensary operator Abi Roach said with federal legislation coming within the next year, the city is in a dilemma.

“Do they just continue the status quo? Do they close down everything and bring back everything to the black market and close down businesses that are employing people and collecting taxes?” Roach said. “Or keep collecting the taxes and keep keep collecting your licensing fees and make it legitimate, instead of trying to fight something that’s inevitable?”

Roach said that the city shouldn’t get involved in trying to limit dispensaries opening in the city, and that business will eventually eliminate many.

“You wouldn’t stop five shoe stores from opening up right beside one another,” Roach said. “Businesses that cannot meet the demand in a proper way will fail and go under.

“If you have 10 cannabis shops in one community, and only five of them are really successful, people will probably only go to those five and ignore the other five, they won’t be able to pay their rent and they’ll just go out of business like any other.”

The mayor has tasked the city’s Municipal Licensing and Standards executive director Tracey Cook to investigate licensing programs similar to Vancouver and Victoria and report back in June.

“In the meantime, I would ask that you employ, in conjunction with the Toronto Police Service, whatever enforcement mechanisms are currently available to you, to address the health and safety concerns of neighbours and businesses in the communities where these marijuana dispensaries are currently operating unlawfully,” Tory wrote.

Roach said the mention of the Toronto Police Service amounted to a lot of hot air.

“If the Toronto Police Service wanted to do something, they would have done it already,” she said. “The government needs to actually think about their policies and not just make reactionary policy that will fail them in the end.”