Item - 2016.LS12.1
- This item was considered by Licensing and Standards Committee on June 27, 2016. The Licensing and Standards Committee postponed consideration of this item. Consult the text of the decision for further information on the deferral.
LS12.1 - Medical Marijuana Dispensaries
- Decision Type:
The Licensing and Standards Committee:
1. Deferred consideration of the item until provincial and federal legislation has been passed on medical marijuana dispensaries and the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards can report on the matter.
Over the past few months, residents and businesses in different parts of Toronto have raised concerns about the rising number of marijuana dispensaries opening in their neighbourhoods. The speed with which these storefronts are proliferating, and the concentration of dispensaries in some areas of our city, is alarming.
We respect the federal government's decision to legalize possession of marijuana for non-medical purposes. Going forward, the city has a responsibility to ensure this emerging industry operates responsibly, without a negative impact on the health and safety of our residents and neighbourhoods.
Left unaddressed, the number of these dispensaries will only increase. This proliferation brings with it potential health risks for individuals who patronize dispensaries where the substance for sale is completely unregulated. It also affects surrounding businesses and communities, who have valid concerns that must be addressed – in particular, concerns about access by minors.
I request the Committee direct a review of the current operations of marijuana dispensaries in the City of Toronto, and ask staff to recommend steps to address concerns, including the feasibility of licensing marijuana dispensaries and other regulatory mechanisms to regulate the proximity of these establishments to schools, childcare and other sensitive uses. I would also ask that you request a review of regulations in other jurisdictions, including Vancouver, which have introduced measures such as licensing fees for dispensaries and regulations controlling their proximity to schools, community centres and other dispensaries.
(May 19, 2016) E-mail from Jessica Burnie (LS.Main.LS12.1.2)
(May 19, 2016) E-mail from Adrian Newbould (LS.Main.LS12.1.3)
(May 19, 2016) E-mail from Keith Babcock (LS.Main.LS12.1.4)
(May 27, 2016) E-mail from Dana Carrabon (LS.Main.LS12.1.5)
(June 24, 2016) Letter from Abi Hod (LS.New.LS12.1.6)
(June 27, 2016) E-mail from Lisa Campbell, Women Grow Toronto (LS.New.LS12.1.7)
That consideration of the item be deferred until provincial and federal legislation has been passed on medical marijuana dispensaries and the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards can report on the matter.
Vote (Defer Item) Jun-27-2016
|Result: Carried||Majority Required|
|Total members that voted Yes: 5||Members that voted Yes are Glenn De Baeremaeker, Frank Di Giorgio, Giorgio Mammoliti, Josh Matlow, Cesar Palacio (Chair)|
|Total members that voted No: 1||Members that voted No are Jim Karygiannis|
|Total members that were Absent: 0||Members that were absent are|
1a - Review of Regulations Governing Marihuana for Medical Purposes
This report responds to Licensing and Standards Committee's direction of May 19, 2016 to provide a review of existing medical marihuana regulations, an overview of operations of medical marihuana dispensaries in Toronto, an overview of practices in other jurisdictions, and regulatory mechanisms that may address the recent proliferation of storefront medical marihuana dispensaries. The directive noted specific concerns related to the clustering of medical marihuana dispensaries in Toronto, their proximity to schools and community centres, and the nuisances that they have generated.
This report focuses on an overview of the current legislative framework governing medical marihuana, and the issues surrounding the recent proliferation of storefront dispensaries.
Marihuana, or cannabis, has been listed as a prohibited substance under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA) for decades. In 2001, the consumption of marihuana for medical purposes was exempted from the CDSA through the promulgation of the Medical Marihuana Access Regulation (MMAR). In 2013, this regulation was replaced with the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulation (MMPR).
The City of Toronto does not have the authority to regulate the sale of medical or non-medical marihuana. The City of Toronto did respond to the regulation of medical marihuana by regulating the permissible locations for licensed producers in the Zoning By-law. These producers are defined as Medical Marihuana Production Facilities (MMPFs) in the Zoning By-law.
The storefront medical marihuana dispensaries that have recently emerged in Toronto are operating in contravention of both federal laws and the City's Zoning By-law. Storefront dispensaries are illegal under the current legislative framework governing the lawful access to medical marihuana. Through the MMPR, there are 18 federally licensed producers in Ontario, three of which are located in Toronto. Currently, the licensed producers are the only entities permitted to legally produce and distribute (by mail to authorized users) controlled amounts of dried marihuana, fresh marihuana, and cannabis oil. The three Toronto-based producers are located in industrial areas and comply with the City's Zoning By-law. The recent enforcement activities undertaken by both the City and the Toronto Police Services (TPS) have neither disrupted the operations of the licensed producers nor affected access to medical marihuana produced by the licensed producers.
The Federal Court of Canada held that the MMPR infringed the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms ("Charter"). The Court suspended its declaration of invalidity to give the federal government six months to revise or replace the MMPR. The City anticipates that the federal government will revise or replace the MMPR by August 24, 2016. Individuals who require medical marihuana may continue to access it via licensed producers. In addition, under the federal regulations, some individuals are authorized to grow their own medical marihuana or utilize a designated grower.
In anticipation of the changes to the MMPR, it is recommended that Municipal Licensing and Standards (ML&S) report to Licensing and Standards Committee on October 25, 2016 with an updated review of the legislative landscape pending the revised federal regulation concerning medical marihuana, updated research into the outcomes of municipal regulations enacted in other jurisdictions, and an analysis of appropriate regulatory options, if any.
Legal Services was consulted in the preparation of this report.