Toronto Marijuana Dispensaries: legalization vs legalities

Many are protesting the raids on marijuana dispensaries in Toronto yesterday. The argument is that marijuana will be legalized in Canada next year.  And yet, many are the same people I’ve seen posting articles explaining how no one has to worry: that the future dispensaries will be controlled and regulated and licensed, much like the ones in Denver. That is to say, people wouldn’t be able to just decide that they wanted to set up a corner store and start selling; like any other kind of business they would have to follow the rules. The Liberals’ own material makes clear that they are not saying simply that will only legalize it:  they will license and regulate its sale, meaning that not all who wish to sell it will be approved.

Yet, people decided that they wanted to set up store fronts and start selling. Without controls, without regulation, without licenses. People selling hot dogs out of food trucks have to pay for licenses, have to follow regulations, have to have inspections. Hot dogs have never ever been illegal. It wasn’t a matter of controlling the sale of a now-legalized substance.

Alcohol is a legal substance and yet we all know that we can’t just decide to open up a liquor store because we want to. And we would look askance at anyone who suddenly did so…and we would be downright suspicious of anyone selling their own homemade brew.

We understand that cigarettes are a legal but controlled substance. We would be equally surprised and leery to see anyone selling their own brand of cigarettes out of a storefront.

There is also a certain naiveity about running these as unlicensed businesses hoping for “the law” to turn a blind eye. This is a business with significant profits…there are those protesting what they see as the government simply wanting their cut. They are choosing to ignore that there are other organizations that will want in on this business. Perhaps the club owners paying protection money to some of the biker clubs would be better able to speak to that.

A lot of people are protesting what they see as the hypocrisy of the raids. Yep…but the hypocritical might not be those you think.

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