Ex-Police Chief Fantino Turns A New Leaf

By Maggie McCutcheon
IG: @magininka

Toronto’s ex-Chief of Police Julian Fantino has had a change of heart when it comes to marijuana use. He now claims to believe in the benefits of the same plant he once spent a career opposing. In 2004, Fantino notoriously compared legalizing weed to legalizing murder.

From 2013 to 2015, Fantino served as PM Stephen Harper’s Minister of Veterans Affairs and, during this time, was lobbied by groups of veterans for medical marijuana to become more accessible as an alternative to opioids. Hearing so much anecdotal evidence, he claims to have gone out searching for the research supporting the therapeutic uses of cannabis and now sees the light.

But that may just be the glow from the pot of gold waiting for him in the form of Aleafia Inc., a “total health network” in Toronto helping patients find “the most effective product that will provide relief and symptom management.” His business partner Raf Souccar, who worked on PM Justin Trudeau’s marijuana legalization task-force, is the controversial ‘other half’ of the company.

As recently as 2015, Fantino has stood firmly against marijuana and its legalization claiming “it puts the health and safety of our children and communities at risk.” He has villainized cannabis as a “dangerous drug” while asserting its legalization would normalize narcotic use. But now Canada is facing pot legalization; his goalposts have moved to include medical marijuana use.

Even as Minister of Veterans Affairs, it was under Fantino’ reign that a cap existed on the amount of medical marijuana available to veterans. While Fantino was OPP Commissioner he launched a ‘marijuana eradication program’ to shut down illegal grow-ops, claiming illegal cannabis sales were fuelling the gun, cocaine, and heroin trades. He was also responsible for six-month mandatory minimum sentences on possession charges of six plants or more.

Nothing about cannabis use and its effects has changed since governments have moved towards legalization except the opportunity to profit. To have not done the research or understand the reality of marijuana use while sentencing people to serve time in jail would have been egregiously irresponsible.

Fantino is well aware of the profit waiting to be made on the potential market boom caused by weed legalization; he commented in a 2015 interview with The Toronto Sun: “There’s a lot of money in it… Big money.”