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Activist: Move on marijuana dispensary regulations

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

After a series of police raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in Durham Region, one local activist and industry member is calling on Oshawa councillors to move towards regulating the local businesses.

Marko Ivancicevic says that the current laws are inadequate for dealing with the intricacies of providing those in need with medical marijuana.

“It doesn’t provide the reasonable direct access that medical cannabis users have needed,” he says.

And with the closing of two of Oshawa’s three dispensaries earlier this month and the imminent closure of the third, Ivancicevic says those customers will be forced to find other means to get their medicine.

“What’s now happening is that these patients are now going to be driven back out onto the street,” he said.

Ivancicevic tasked councillors with taking a groundbreaking step toward regulating these dispensaries at the local level, and even going as far as providing a few first steps toward what regulations would look like.

“Be proactive, we have an opportunity to be ahead of the curve,” he said, noting that the issue will need to be dealt with at some point, whether Oshawa wants to accept it or not.

However, Mayor John Henry said it puts the city in an awkward position.

“Ideally the federal government would get their act together and decide what they’re going to do,” he said. “It  puts municipalities and police services into a challenge because when you’re in a lower tier of government…you don’t want to create bylaws that are different in every municipality then try and enforce them.”

The Liberal government is now moving forward with its campaign pledge to legalize marijuana, and while no motion or recommendation came forward following Ivancicevic’s request, Henry noted it remains on the city’s radar.

“It’s not something that we’re not thinking about, but it’s also a challenge for us to take on two different levels of government,” he said.

“It’s an awkward place for us to be in. I hope they solve it before it becomes too much of a problem.”