New tools will help Hamilton Police enforce marijuana laws

News Sep 16, 2017 by Craig Campbell Dundas Star News

Ontario's Attorney General is working with local police to develop a "co-ordinated enforcement strategy" to help make it easier for police to permanently shut down illegal marijuana dispensaries.

Hamilton police chief Eric Girt told police services board members Sept. 14 it is difficult for police to enforce current laws prohibiting the sale of marijuana, but with the province's recent announcement of plans to take the sale of pot in-house when it is legalized by the federal government, there is a sign the province will create new tools to assist local enforcement.

Board chair and Ancaster city councillor Lloyd Ferguson said after the meeting he's already participated in a conference call with the attorney general's office discussing needed enforcement tools and resources to close illegal storefronts.

Ministry staff say improving enforcement is the goal of current discussions.

"Ontario will be convening an enforcement summit in the coming weeks," said attorney general spokesperson Emilie Smith. "In addition, Ontario is seeking further details on the federal government's recent commitment to allocate up to $274 million to address cannabis enforcement.

"The only legal method of purchasing medical cannabis in Canada is by registering with a licensed producer and receiving the product through registered mail. Currently, any purchase and sale of cannabis outside of these parameters, including through storefront dispensaries, is illegal."

Marijuana dispensaries across the city — including existing storefronts in Hamilton — are illegal under current law and will remain illegal when Ontario's LCBO takes over legalized sales in 150 standalone stores across the province between 2019 and 2020.

Girt suggested that sends a strong message for the province's assistance on local enforcement.

"The province sent a message and that is these dispensaries will not be regulated by the government," Girt said, adding local police look forward to the ability to keep marijuana out of the hands of children and organized crime.

A Sept. 8 news release announcing the province's plan to open 80 LCBO-administered marijuana stores by July 1, 2019 also stated: "Illicit cannabis dispensaries are not and will not be legal retailers. The province will pursue a co-ordinated and proactive enforcement strategy, working with municipalities, local police services, the OPP and the federal government to help shut down these illegal operations."

Girt said police are actively working to shut down illegal dispensaries in Hamilton, which requires investigation, acquiring warrants and providing all the evidence required by courts.

In the meantime, illegal dispensaries are shutting down and reopening under different names, requiring investigators to start over, he said.

"It's very important we have the tools to shut them down," Girt said.

Board member and west Mountain city councillor Terry Whitehead acknowledged local police don't have the "tools" to enforce the law against marijuana dispensaries. He said the city is working from a licensing and bylaw angle to try and shut them down.

According to a motion by Stoney Creek councillor Doug Conley that was pulled from last week's council agenda prior to the meeting, 19 illegal marijuana dispensaries remain open in the city of Hamilton, after the city's licensing and bylaw services officers succeed in closing 10.

Conley's motion stated the city has "issued 45 non-compliance zoning notifications, 25 zoning charges are currently before the court, and six licensing charges for selling food without a licence."

The motion called for council to request police "enforce the Narcotics Control Act" and charge those selling marijuana in Hamilton, and called on the mayor to correspond with public safety minister Ralph Goodale to request legislation legalizing marijuana be expedited to alleviate confusion within the community.

After the board meeting, Ferguson said the motion was removed from the agenda because the work it requests — achieving enforcement and closure of dispensaries — is underway through the province's attorney general.

New tools will help Hamilton Police enforce marijuana laws

Attorney general developing co-ordinated enforcement strategy to close dispensaries

News Sep 16, 2017 by Craig Campbell Dundas Star News

Ontario's Attorney General is working with local police to develop a "co-ordinated enforcement strategy" to help make it easier for police to permanently shut down illegal marijuana dispensaries.

Hamilton police chief Eric Girt told police services board members Sept. 14 it is difficult for police to enforce current laws prohibiting the sale of marijuana, but with the province's recent announcement of plans to take the sale of pot in-house when it is legalized by the federal government, there is a sign the province will create new tools to assist local enforcement.

Board chair and Ancaster city councillor Lloyd Ferguson said after the meeting he's already participated in a conference call with the attorney general's office discussing needed enforcement tools and resources to close illegal storefronts.

Ministry staff say improving enforcement is the goal of current discussions.

"Ontario will be convening an enforcement summit in the coming weeks," said attorney general spokesperson Emilie Smith. "In addition, Ontario is seeking further details on the federal government's recent commitment to allocate up to $274 million to address cannabis enforcement.

"The only legal method of purchasing medical cannabis in Canada is by registering with a licensed producer and receiving the product through registered mail. Currently, any purchase and sale of cannabis outside of these parameters, including through storefront dispensaries, is illegal."

Marijuana dispensaries across the city — including existing storefronts in Hamilton — are illegal under current law and will remain illegal when Ontario's LCBO takes over legalized sales in 150 standalone stores across the province between 2019 and 2020.

Girt suggested that sends a strong message for the province's assistance on local enforcement.

"The province sent a message and that is these dispensaries will not be regulated by the government," Girt said, adding local police look forward to the ability to keep marijuana out of the hands of children and organized crime.

A Sept. 8 news release announcing the province's plan to open 80 LCBO-administered marijuana stores by July 1, 2019 also stated: "Illicit cannabis dispensaries are not and will not be legal retailers. The province will pursue a co-ordinated and proactive enforcement strategy, working with municipalities, local police services, the OPP and the federal government to help shut down these illegal operations."

Girt said police are actively working to shut down illegal dispensaries in Hamilton, which requires investigation, acquiring warrants and providing all the evidence required by courts.

In the meantime, illegal dispensaries are shutting down and reopening under different names, requiring investigators to start over, he said.

"It's very important we have the tools to shut them down," Girt said.

Board member and west Mountain city councillor Terry Whitehead acknowledged local police don't have the "tools" to enforce the law against marijuana dispensaries. He said the city is working from a licensing and bylaw angle to try and shut them down.

According to a motion by Stoney Creek councillor Doug Conley that was pulled from last week's council agenda prior to the meeting, 19 illegal marijuana dispensaries remain open in the city of Hamilton, after the city's licensing and bylaw services officers succeed in closing 10.

Conley's motion stated the city has "issued 45 non-compliance zoning notifications, 25 zoning charges are currently before the court, and six licensing charges for selling food without a licence."

The motion called for council to request police "enforce the Narcotics Control Act" and charge those selling marijuana in Hamilton, and called on the mayor to correspond with public safety minister Ralph Goodale to request legislation legalizing marijuana be expedited to alleviate confusion within the community.

After the board meeting, Ferguson said the motion was removed from the agenda because the work it requests — achieving enforcement and closure of dispensaries — is underway through the province's attorney general.

New tools will help Hamilton Police enforce marijuana laws

Attorney general developing co-ordinated enforcement strategy to close dispensaries

News Sep 16, 2017 by Craig Campbell Dundas Star News

Ontario's Attorney General is working with local police to develop a "co-ordinated enforcement strategy" to help make it easier for police to permanently shut down illegal marijuana dispensaries.

Hamilton police chief Eric Girt told police services board members Sept. 14 it is difficult for police to enforce current laws prohibiting the sale of marijuana, but with the province's recent announcement of plans to take the sale of pot in-house when it is legalized by the federal government, there is a sign the province will create new tools to assist local enforcement.

Board chair and Ancaster city councillor Lloyd Ferguson said after the meeting he's already participated in a conference call with the attorney general's office discussing needed enforcement tools and resources to close illegal storefronts.

Ministry staff say improving enforcement is the goal of current discussions.

"Ontario will be convening an enforcement summit in the coming weeks," said attorney general spokesperson Emilie Smith. "In addition, Ontario is seeking further details on the federal government's recent commitment to allocate up to $274 million to address cannabis enforcement.

"The only legal method of purchasing medical cannabis in Canada is by registering with a licensed producer and receiving the product through registered mail. Currently, any purchase and sale of cannabis outside of these parameters, including through storefront dispensaries, is illegal."

Marijuana dispensaries across the city — including existing storefronts in Hamilton — are illegal under current law and will remain illegal when Ontario's LCBO takes over legalized sales in 150 standalone stores across the province between 2019 and 2020.

Girt suggested that sends a strong message for the province's assistance on local enforcement.

"The province sent a message and that is these dispensaries will not be regulated by the government," Girt said, adding local police look forward to the ability to keep marijuana out of the hands of children and organized crime.

A Sept. 8 news release announcing the province's plan to open 80 LCBO-administered marijuana stores by July 1, 2019 also stated: "Illicit cannabis dispensaries are not and will not be legal retailers. The province will pursue a co-ordinated and proactive enforcement strategy, working with municipalities, local police services, the OPP and the federal government to help shut down these illegal operations."

Girt said police are actively working to shut down illegal dispensaries in Hamilton, which requires investigation, acquiring warrants and providing all the evidence required by courts.

In the meantime, illegal dispensaries are shutting down and reopening under different names, requiring investigators to start over, he said.

"It's very important we have the tools to shut them down," Girt said.

Board member and west Mountain city councillor Terry Whitehead acknowledged local police don't have the "tools" to enforce the law against marijuana dispensaries. He said the city is working from a licensing and bylaw angle to try and shut them down.

According to a motion by Stoney Creek councillor Doug Conley that was pulled from last week's council agenda prior to the meeting, 19 illegal marijuana dispensaries remain open in the city of Hamilton, after the city's licensing and bylaw services officers succeed in closing 10.

Conley's motion stated the city has "issued 45 non-compliance zoning notifications, 25 zoning charges are currently before the court, and six licensing charges for selling food without a licence."

The motion called for council to request police "enforce the Narcotics Control Act" and charge those selling marijuana in Hamilton, and called on the mayor to correspond with public safety minister Ralph Goodale to request legislation legalizing marijuana be expedited to alleviate confusion within the community.

After the board meeting, Ferguson said the motion was removed from the agenda because the work it requests — achieving enforcement and closure of dispensaries — is underway through the province's attorney general.