(ANTIMEDIA) Ontario, Canada — Two former top law enforcement officials in Canada who previously campaigned against cannabis legalization are now going into the business.
CBC News reports that Former OPP commissioner, MP, and federal Conservative cabinet minister Julian Fantino and former RCMP deputy commissioner Raf Souccar launched a business Tuesday that aims to connect medical patients with quality cannabis. The launch comes eight months before Canada legalizes recreational weed.
The news is particularly noteworthy because both men previously issued harsh rebukes of legalizing the plant. CBC noted:
“Both men spent decades battling illegal drug use in their law enforcement careers, with Fantino going as far as equating legalizing marijuana to legalizing murder while serving as Toronto’s chief of police in 2004.”
However, the duo credits science and their interactions with patients with changing their minds.
Souccar said they were “persuaded by the science and by real life stories.”
Their decision to go into the cannabis industry has drawn some criticism. British Columbia MP Don Davies said it created the appearance of a conflict of interest because Souccar had served on the legalization task force. “The optics of task force members, within a short period of time of their task force duties, going into that very business for personal profit… I think it’s problematic,” he said.
However, Souccar and Fantino’s intentions appear to be genuine.
“It was an opportunity I never had before, I was too busy enforcing the law. It brought about a huge change in me.”
“Souccar said his previous impression of medical marijuana users were that they wanted to use cannabis and used medical reasons as a ‘guise,’” CBC explained, “but after meeting them, found that he ‘could not have been more wrong.'”
“Fantino’s about-face on marijuana came, he said, during his time as Minister for Veterans Affairs, when he met veterans suffering from issues like post-traumatic stress disorder.“
He said veterans “came and lobbied me to enable them to access medical marijuana as a substitute to opioids” and changed his mind after conducting his own “fact-finding” mission. Their company’s doctors will not prescribe opioids. Rather, they say they to be a part of the solutions to the crisis, which has swept Canada as well as the United States.
Their Aleafia Total Health Network will operate as “health delivery system.” They will not have any actual cannabis on hand but already enjoy a clientele numbering roughly 100 patients. They launched their first storefront in Vaughan, Ontario, on Tuesday.
“The purpose of the clinic is to do the assessments,” and provide complementary treatments like physiotherapy, Fantino said. “We’re not in the marijuana business. We’re a health delivery system.”
They will also be working with researchers and producers to facilitate research on the benefits of cannabis.
Both men say they now support recreational cannabis “with conditions” and would be open to using medical marijuana if a doctor prescribed it to them.
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