On the Density of Dispensaries...
Alcohol is more harmful but grandfathered in--the technical term for this is HYPOCRISY
[Originally written as a response to https://mailchi.mp/ndp/dec6_newsletter?e=a79753dbe7 ]
Marit, keep up the great work in general!
I'm not your constituent, I live and teach piano in Kensington, where I operate a home music venue and where dispensaries are most dense. I work in ONDP fundraising and housing activism (TorCH), and am normally writing politicians about housing but I felt I had an important perspective to offer on your proposal to limit dispensary density -- as a musician I am still waiting for the opportunities I had in the grey market to perform at public cannabis *venues*, which attract a different vibe, and break the link between alcohol and music's business models, which is important to me as a child of an alcoholic and a believer in cannabis as a form of harm reduction. Open mics and music events attract alcoholics because of the alcohol-focused business model of social establishments.
While I'm further left than the NDP and advocate many a government regulation, in this case, the reason dispensaries are crowding out other establishments is too many regulations, not too few: diversity is strength and the current regulatory landscape prohibits many business models other than dispensaries that nevertheless leverage cannabis sales for profits. Before project claudia and related crackdowns, the Emerys operated some of the best live music spots for developing musicians and at Christie Pitts a 'Stoner Yoga' event targeted people with chronic pain. Today police intervention means all such weed-friendly music venues have been CLOSED, along with many other venues post-pandemic, and those with chronic pain have to smoke weed outside in the winter, instead of using a vaporizer in a GIANT room that posed no second-hand smoke risk to anyone.
Today, faced with a choice, a business operator can ONLY run a dispensary or a private club if they wish to profit off of legal cannabis because of second-hand smoking laws which have merely been transferred over from the case of tobacco: all the data and studies cited in the discourse around second-hand smoking laws were about cigarettes and don't justify such a sweeping ban on indoor use of eg: cannabis vaporizers indoors, which produces the lack of diversity of businesses that sell weed. Part of harm reduction is the formation of community and this doesn't happen if you can't even have an unstaffed smoking section.