Toronto medical officer to propose the City immediately decriminalize weed

Jun 6 2017, 1:44 am

The City of Toronto’s medical officer is proposing the immediate decriminalization of non-medicinal weed.

In a report being presented to the Board of Health on June 12, Dr. Eileen de Villa, the City’s Medical Officer of Health, said that Toronto Public Health supports a public health approach to the legalization and regulation of non-medical cannabis.

Earlier this year, the Federal Government introduced legislations to legalize and regulate non-medical weed by July 2018.

According to the report, under the proposed legislation, the federal government will be responsible for the production of cannabis, while the provincial and territorial governments are responsible for developing, implementing, maintaining and enforcing systems to oversee the distribution and retail sale of cannabis.

The report recommends that the Board of Health request that the Government of Canada immediately decriminalize the possession of weed for personal use until legislation to legalize and regulate cannabis comes into force.

“A significant number of young Canadians will continue to obtain criminal charges before cannabis is legalized,” reads the report. “Based on current rates, there will be approximately 59,000 charges and 22,000 convictions for simple possession before cannabis is legalized in Canada. The consequences of having a criminal record include impacts on access to employment, housing, social stigmatization and economic status.”

With legalization on the horizon, the report also recommend measures that can be taken to further protect health and minimize the harms of cannabis use when developing the legislative framework for the non-medical drug.

The report also requests the Province to set the minimum age of purchase at 19, aligning with the minimum legal age for alcohol. As well, with certain regulations being set municipally, the City will be looking to prohibit the smoking and vaping of cannabis in public places in alignment with restrictions on tobacco use in the Smoke-Free Ontario Act and the Electronic Cigarettes Act.

There will also be restrictions when it comes to the use of weed and driving vehicles that will be similar to restrictions on liquor through the Liquor Licence Act.

The City of Toronto has been pro-decriminalization of pot for personal use since October of 2005. Last May, the Board of Health urged the federal Minister of Health
to use an evidence-based, public health approach to develop a regulatory framework for recreational weed, and encouraged funding for research on cannabis use.

The Board of Health meets at City Hall on June 12.

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