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July 21, 2017 – Councillor Opposed to Cannabis Tax on Vulnerable Users

TORONTO, ON – Jim Karygiannis, City Councillor for Ward 39, Scarborough-Agincourt is calling on the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario to stop any discussion of taxing medical cannabis ahead of the legalization of marijuana sales expected next year.

Mayor John Tory wrote a letter to Premier Kathleen Wynne seeking a say in how the Province will deal with marijuana distribution in municipalities. Since matters of enforcement will fall on cities, Tory is requesting that Toronto receive a dedicated share of provincial taxes on marijuana.

“There are many unresolved issues with marijuana legalization in cities. The Mayor has not properly consulted with city councillors, front line dispensary workers, or vulnerable residents on their medical needs” says Councillor Karygiannis. “Will Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder sufferers on fixed incomes be taxed for their medical marijuana? We don’t know and they have not been consulted.”

In the Mayor’s letter, Tory states that he does not think the people of Toronto would support future widespread locations of outlets for the sale of marijuana in certain neighbourhoods. It is difficult to verify this statement since the City has not conducted its own public consultations on the matter and did not allow residents and cannabis users to depute at License and Standards Committee.

“Twice there was a motion at the Licensing and Standards Committee, where I sit, to look at the terms of marijuana sales. It was pushed back by Mayor’s request. Medical users of marijuana, recreational users, and dispensaries did not have the opportunity to voice their concerns,” says Councillor Karygiannis.

On top of the unresolved issues of marijuana sales, the City of Toronto’s raids on marijuana dispensaries has been a useless exercise and a waste of taxpayer money. The majority of criminal charges laid in 2016 Project Claudia raid have been thrown out.

“The raids were a waste of police resources and taxpayer dollars. There is a reason why vulnerable residents get their medical cannabis at storefronts. It is because the government system is broken and they receive better service, education and access from dispensaries,” says Councillor Karygiannis.

“Instead of listening to the needs of most vulnerable Toronto residents, Mayor Tory is choosing to make a backroom deal with the Premier. The government should not impose a tax on vulnerable people with medical needs. I will be requesting in writing that the Licensing and Standards Committee, open up consultations with front line workers in the cannabis industry and users before continuing negotiations with the Province,” concludes Councillor Karygiannis

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