Article by Dale Carruthers, The London Free Press
With the Liberals plan to introduce legislation legalizing marijuana still on track for the spring, MP Bill Blair met with London officials Tuesday to talk pot.
The ex-Toronto police chief, who’s tasked with shaping the legislation, is travelling across Canada to discuss the federal government’s plan to legalize and regulate the drug for recreational use.
Blair met with Mayor Matt Brown and police Chief John Pare in London — where a half dozen illegal pot shops operate — before sitting down with The Free Press.
Q: You’ve been meeting with stakeholders across the country to discuss legalization. Who exactly are you meeting with and what are you hearing?
A: I’ve spoken to police chiefs in every community I’ve visited. But I’m also speaking with mayors, with other civic officials, with people who represent public health agencies . . . there’s a strong consensus that we must do better.
Q: According to a 2016 news report, you held a series of informal meetings with advocates for the illegal marijuana dispensaries. What did you take away from these meetings?
A: We’ve tried to listen to every voice. One of the challenges that communities right across Canada are facing is that there are some individuals who are ignoring the laws that currently exist . . . Unfortunately there are a number of individuals who have sort of jumped ahead of any regulatory changes and are still producing and selling marijuana illegally. I’ve had some discussion with representatives of those organizations and I remind them that the laws should be obeyed.