Regardless of the incredibly bumpy road getting Canada to the open doors of legalization, many would say the fact it’s, at least, happening is a great thing.
Having said that, there’s probably not a single person on Earth who will tell you to trust the government when it comes to doing anything properly. Democracy is a process in which we all must be involved if we want to have as fair and just a society as possible.
Herbal Dispatch sat down with Lisa Campbell, one of the directors of Sensible Ontario, to get her take on what needs to be done in order to balance out the planned government monopoly on cannabis in Canada’s largest province.First and foremost, what is Sensible Ontario?
Sensible Ontario is a campaign by the Ontario Cannabis Consumer & Retail Alliance for lounges and private storefronts.
[The movement] was founded last Spring and is a joint effort between the Cannabis Friendly Business Association (CFBA), the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (CAMCD) and the Cannabis Trade Alliance of Canada (CTAC).
We held a meeting between all three organizations to agree on a provincial strategy for Ontario. [The organizations] may have different opinions on all different issues, ranging from craft grows to edibles, but despite all these things we are united on the goal of advocating for lounges and dispensaries.
So this is a coalition who fight for lounges and dispensaries all over Ontario.
It’s a grassroots campaign to have cannabis consumers voices heard across the province leading up to the election.
Is the government listening?
We worked with the Counsel Public Affairs along with Eden Medicinal Society to lobby in Ontario to engage government in dialogue and provide solutions. But we were locked out initially, including being rejected by Kathleen Wynne herself. It was really interesting to see Ontario completely ignore the existing industry and only consult with licensed producers.
What we did see happen recently, which is exciting, is the Ontario government is doing more public consultations on government retail and proposed places of use, including lounges. We let people know about these consultations, as there was no outreach to consumers or existing retailers to have their voices heard.
We also started a letter writing campaign, where if you go to our website under the “Take Action” section, you can actually write a letter to your Member of Parliament or Member of Provincial Parliament on cannabis lounges and private retail.
Does the public want lounges and dispensaries?
We did a lot of of polls through CFBA [and] we found that the majority of Torontonians and Ontarians were supportive of private retail and lounges, with over 75 percent of Torontonians supporting before the Project Claudia raids.
Visit our website and donate to become a part of making sense: https://www.sensibleontario.ca/donate
Posted by Sensible Ontario on Tuesday, March 6, 2018
What are your hopes with Sensible Ontario? Is the end-goal for lounges and dispensaries to be included in the final framework for cannabis?
Our goal is to build a political movement of over 50,000 citizens writing their elected officials about cannabis and encouraging them to legalize dispensaries and license lounges. Our hope initially as a campaign is to make cannabis an election issue because we have the provincial election in Ontario coming up in June. There’s been these massive raids across Ontario and it’s time we hold politicians accountable at the polls.
[We also want] to do a consumer poll across Ontario to get more recent stats as well as do a media campaign to transform public opinion on these independent businesses. We’re hoping that we can give the data to politicians, riding by riding, and say ‘in your district this is what voters think about the issue, will you support us?’ We’re basically mirroring the campaign strategy of Sensible B.C. which was founded by Dana Larsen.
Personally, I think the best strategy for success in Ontario is to propose a hybrid ask of cannabis lounges that dispense, as we now have support on the lounges issue from the Ontario Public Service Employees Union boss “Smokey”, who is also a cannabis consumer.
How can people get involved?
People can get involved by going to SensibleOn.ca or SensibleOntario.ca and donating to help launch our consumer poll before 420! You can sign up to our list which will give you email updates on what’s happening across Ontario, as well as news. You can also get involved through the “take action” section of the website, where there’s always something you can do to make things better in Ontario. We are the biggest consumer market in Canada, so it’s time to have our voices heard at the polls!
- Edibles Are Not Legal Yet, What Do I Do Until Then? - October 2, 2018
- It’s a New Dawn, a New Day, a New Life - September 25, 2018
- Canada’s Activists Reveal Their Thoughts on Legalization - September 17, 2018
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