Article by Samantha Beattie, Toronto Star
Once an outspoken critic of legalizing pot, Julian Fantino says he changed his mind after veterans convinced him of the benefits of medical marijuana in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and managing pain.
The former Toronto police chief was recently named executive chair of a GTA medical marijuana company.
Fantino told a news conference Tuesday for the launch of Aleafia in Vaughan that he supports legalizing pot, as long as children can’t access it, organized criminals don’t benefit and cops crack down on impaired driving.
He said he would use medical marijuana if it was prescribed to him by a doctor.
“For me, it would be a healthy choice,” Fantino said.
Fantino also worked as chief of the London and York Region police forces and commissioner of the Ontario Provincial Police before he was elected to serve one term as an MP representing Vaughan-Woodbridge.
He said he embarked on a “fact-finding mission” to learn more about medical marijuana after serving as Minister of Veterans Affairs in the Harper government. He heard from veterans who he “cares deeply for” about how marijuana helped them cope with injuries.
“That enabled us to be more helpful to people who are not obtaining results from their medications, usually opiates,” he said. “The medical profession is becoming better educated and better informed and there are more and more people who are being helped greatly with medical cannabis.”
He was joined by former RCMP deputy commissioner Raf Souccar, who is Aleafia’s president and chief executive officer.
Souccar said he too was critical of medical marijuana, even when he was appointed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Marijuana Legalization Task Force in 2016.