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article imageOp-Ed: Toronto police raid on marijuana 'dispensaries' right thing to do

By Marcus Hondro     May 28, 2016 in Crime
The arrogant and self-serving pot activists that hijacked that Toronto police press conference Thursday gave us an ugly view of the marijuana movement. To be sure there are reasonable pot-smokers who are in the right but we did not see them on this day.
Marijuana raids
Toronto police shut down 43 storefront marijuana dispensaries, all of which were operating illegally. So let's start here: we the people make the laws, not Jodie Emery (who had the gall to call the raids "the new prohibition") or Marc Emery, or any of their followers. We make them, collectively through our elected officials we do, you and I.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal Party promised to legalize marijuana but it has not happened yet and we do not know under what guise it will. How will quality control and safety control be handled in the impending (we assume impending) legislation?
Note that the Prime Minister also said his government will restrict access to pot "to ensure we keep marijuana out of the hands of children, and the profits out of the hands of criminals."
He has also said there must be "a federal/provincial/territorial task force, and with input from experts in public health, substance abuse, and law enforcement" who will then be charged with designing "a new system of strict marijuana sales and distribution, with appropriate federal and provincial excise taxes applied."
Simply allowing marijuana capitalists to rush off willy-nilly and create their own products and distribute them as they see fit is hardly the answer. It doesn't work that way and nor should it. Why? Again, because we the people say so. Don't like it? Here comes the proverbial kiss-off in situations like this: go somewhere else. Bye.
Safety first
Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders, who by all accounts dealt patiently and professionally with that group of unruly, boisterous and classless activists at his press conference, warned these unlicensed capitalists they were making their money in contravention of the law and would be busted if they continued. All but one continued.
“These locations have a broad impact on surrounding neighbourhoods. There is no quality control on these products,” Saunders said. “I was not pressured politically … This is about public safety.”
Issuing warnings was a classy move that acknowledged the pendulum has all but shifted. But Chief Saunders still had to act; especially considering he had hundreds of complaints about the illegal dispensaries, virtually all around safety concerns. Here's this: police and lawmakers, therefore you and I, are responsible for what could have happened, not just the Emerys et al.
"Let's face it, I'd be sitting here having a completely different interview with you right now if some child had eaten three or four of these jujubes," Saunders told the CBC Friday. "It would be, 'Why did you not do anything after these hundreds of complaints came across to us, making us known that these places were, in fact, dealing in marijuana?' So there are no perfect answers. I knew that there'd be people that would be upset."
Health Canada licenses
Again no law has been crafted, no quality control or distribution control has been set. So concerns about marijuana candy being ingested by children and about safety of the product overall are valid. One protester tried to argue such points by saying that marijuana is completely harmless anyhow. To a child?
Further, there have been a plethora of studies that have shown pot is not the benign drug some activists argue it is. Indeed, by barking out such a claim that person did more to convince us that marijuana is not harmless, not if such arrogance and ignorance is the result of smoking it.
Forty-three stores raided by police, 90 arrests and 186 charges. Despite that not one person who requires medical marijuana will be forced to go without because of the raid. They will continue to get their marijuana the way the law says they should - from approved dispensaries licensed by Health Canada.
Suggestions to the contrary by unruly activists notwithstanding, including from the disingenuous Jodie Emery, who bleated that it's "the patients suffering, sick, (who) are the victims."
Indeed, Chief Saunders noted that the raids were "not an attack on lawful production, distribution or purchasing of marijuana for medical purposes."
Pot legalization
Many look forward to the day there will be no more arrests and prosecutions related to marijuana. But the laws are not here yet and our politicians must ensure they are crafted with due process given to safety, in particular of our teens, people whose brains — and ability to reason (as all us parents know!) - are still developing.
By all means let's all be a part of the discussion but let's make it reasonable, respectful and devoid of the kind of frenetic hyperbole and lies dispensed by the unruly ones on Thursday. Having the biggest mouth on the block does not help to reach a solution.
Mind you, the screamers can scream all they want because happily they are put in check by this: the decisions are made by we the people. And if you don't like it? Yeah, you know.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about police chief mark saunders, toronto police raid dispensaries, marijuana raid, pot activists, Medical Marijuana
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