Clear regulations needed for medical, recreational marijuana: Wynne

TORONTO -- Ontario is looking for federal government guidance on regulating clinics that sell medical marijuana and on how pot should be sold for recreational use once it's legalized.

See Full Article

The federal Liberals promised in this month's throne speech to "legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana" to keep it out of the hands of children while also denying criminals the financial profits.

The new government plans to remove possession of small amounts of marijuana from the Criminal Code and create new laws to more severely punish those who provide it to minors or drive while under its influence.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says there hasn't been enough discussion about the distinctions between medicinal and recreational marijuana, which is one reason she suggested Ontario's government-run liquor stores would be well-suited to retailing legalized pot.

"The reason I put forward the LCBO as the possible distribution network is that I want to make it clear that I see the need for a socially responsible approach to this," Wynne told The Canadian Press in a year-end interview.

"I think that this needs to be a controlled substance -- and I don't use that in a technical way -- but there need to be controls on it, and so I will be looking to the federal government to work with us to determine what those controls need to be."

There are dozens of clinics or dispensaries springing up in cities across Canada that sell medicinal marijuana -- mainly in Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia -- and there are referral-only clinics staffed with doctors who assess patients but don't sell pot. They give patients a prescription to take to a licensed marijuana producer.

Canada needs national standards and regulations for the marijuana clinics, said Wynne.

"Not all marijuana is going to be medicinal, so we've got to make distinctions between a clinic that is providing medicinal marijuana and what the recreational distribution is going to be," she said. "I just don't think we're there yet."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to create a task force with representatives from the three levels of government and, with input from experts in public health, substance abuse and policing, to help design a new system of marijuana sales and distribution.

Trudeau stressed the importance of listening to municipal partners, provinces and the medical marijuana industry, as well as drawing on best practices from around the world.

"We are going to get this right in a way that suits Canadians broadly, and specifically in their communities."

Trudeau also said any tax revenues from legal marijuana should go towards addiction treatment, mental health support and education programs -- not general revenues.

"It was never about a money-maker," he said.

Wynne isn't the only one looking for a socially responsible way to retail marijuana.

The British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union and the B.C. Private Liquor Store Association joined forces to call for legal marijuana to be sold through their existing retail system, which includes about 200 private and 200 government-run stores.

BCGEU president Stephanie Smith said the union did not take a position on whether it supports the plan to legalize marijuana, "but we do believe that when this happens, it ought to be sold in the most socially responsible way possible, in an age-controlled environment with the strongest track record of checking identification."

Expectations are changing fast in Ontario, which only last week updated its liquor laws to allow the sale of six-packs of beer in selected grocery stores. Minutes after Wynne made the announcement, she was asked why grocers couldn't also sell pot.

"I don't know what the federal government is going to bring forward, but we will work with them to make sure there are parameters of social responsibility around marijuana."

Ontario had to back off plans to ban the use of electronic cigarettes and vaping everywhere that smoking tobacco is prohibited, which it planned to implement Jan. 1, after medical marijuana users noted they would be exempted from the regulation.

"We know that we're going need to bring in regulation and possibly legislation to make sure that all the rules that apply to smoking cigarettes, tobacco, will apply to smoking marijuana, whether it's medicinal or otherwise," said Wynne.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Au revoir 'America First': Biden team ditches Trump-style nationalism with foreign policy picks

    World News CBC News
    Let's cast a gaze forward to the first few days of Joe Biden's presidency for a glimpse at how dramatic a departure we're about to witness from the "America First" era. We know a fair bit now about Biden's incoming administration, based on his platform and on the slew of top foreign policy officials he introduced on Tuesday. Source
  • How Australia succeeded in lowering COVID-19 cases to near-zero

    World News CBC News
    Unlike other nations, including Canada, which have aimed to maintain new infections at a level that won't overwhelm the medical system, Australia set out to virtually eliminate the virus from its shores. When Australia was hit with a surge of COVID-19 cases in late July just weeks after declaring victory against the first wave, it prompted one of the world's longest lockdowns in Melbourne, for example, closing virtually everything that wasn't a grocery store or hospital for nearly four…
  • Small retailers push back against lockdown policy that favours big-box stores

    Canada News CBC News
    Small businesses in Toronto and Peel Region say it's not fair that they should be closed for in-person shopping while big-box stores can sell all manner of goods — from clothing to books to tech gadgets — if they happen to also sell essential products such as groceries. Source
  • What Canada's hardest-hit provinces can learn from those that handled COVID-19 best

    Canada News CBC News
    When epidemiologist Susan Kirkland opened a Halifax newspaper on Saturday, she was stunned. "Three protest rallies planned," the Chronicle Herald headline read, in part. "Oh, no," the head of public health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University thought to herself. Source
  • A surge in bitcoin in the COVID-19 era outshines gold, but can it last?

    Canada News CBC News
    A return of bitcoin to its stratospheric highs has top financial experts scratching their heads and cryptocurrency boosters saying I told you so. But while supporters insist that it's different this time as bitcoin heads back toward its all-time maximum in December 2017 — which at current exchange rates was somewhere around $26,000 Cdn — many fear that inexperienced speculators are again going to get their fingers badly burned. Source
  • Erin O'Toole's Conservatives are not immune from the struggles of pandemic-rattled premiers

    Canada News CBC News
    Alberta is now one of Canada's worst COVID-19 hotspots and Premier Jason Kenney's handling of the pandemic in his province is getting low marks, according to polls. It might also be sapping support for the federal Conservative Party in its most loyal stronghold. Source
  • Ombudsman says police, first responders must do more to inform crime victims of their rights

    Canada News CBC News
    Five years after Parliament passed a law giving victims of crime new rights, Canada's chief victims' advocate is calling on MPs to fix a regime she says has failed to empower and support those harmed by crime. Source
  • Azerbaijani troops enter further territory ceded by Armenia

    World News CTV News
    BAKU, AZERBAIJAN -- The Azerbaijani army has entered the Kalbajar region, one more territory ceded by Armenian forces in a truce that ended deadly fighting over the separatist territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry said Wednesday. Source
  • Ethiopian leader rejects international 'interference' in war

    World News CTV News
    NAIROBI, KENYA -- Ethiopia's prime minister is rejecting a growing international consensus for dialogue and a halt to deadly fighting in the country's Tigray region as "interference," saying his country will handle the conflict on its own as a 72-hour surrender ultimatum runs out. Source
  • The U.S. reported more than 2,100 deaths in a single day, and things are projected to get worse

    World News CTV News
    More than 2,100 COVID-19 deaths were reported in the U.S. on Tuesday, making it the highest single day death toll the country has seen since early May."> The most deaths in a single day were recorded April 15 -- 2,603 people. Source