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Canadian Government Slams Marijuana Dispensaries, Says Legal Weed Regime Will Be Strict

Despite legalization promises, the Liberals said possessing and selling non-medical weed is still breaking the law.

I want to hold your hand. Photo via Flickr user Dr. Brainfish

Marijuana dispensary advocates were likely disappointed by a news conference Thursday morning in which the federal government said anyone selling weed outside of the Health Canada scheme is breaking the law.

"These storefronts sell untested product that may be unsafe and of particular risk to kids and they are supplied by illegal growers," said Michel Picard, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Public Safety at the event. "The law is the law until a new regulation system is in place." Picard made the comments at the announcement of the federal government's marijuana legalization task force, alongside fellow Liberals Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Jane Philpott. The task force, headed up by former deputy prime minister Anne McLellan is comprised of nine members, many of them doctors. It will provide a report on how to proceed with legalization in November. But the government was clear that until legalization actually happens, using and selling weed recreationally is completely illegal. "Production and possession of marijuana are illegal unless it has been authorized for medical purposes," said Wilson-Raybould. "The government of canada supports efforts by federal, provincial, and municipal law enforcement to enforce these laws." READ MORE: Toronto Cops Raid Pot Dispensaries in Massive Citywide Crackdown Marijuana activists in Toronto recently called for police to leave them alone, following the Project Claudia raids of more than 43 dispensaries. All of the bureaucrats present Thursday noted that marijuana is harmful to children. "The science is overwhelmingly clear that marijuana is not a benign substance. It represents a risk to certain sectors of our population, particularly kids, in the impact on developing adolescent brains," said former Toronto police chief and Liberal MP Bill Blair, noting producing weed shouldn't be treated the same as "growing tomatoes." The government maintained its objective in legalization is to keep marijuana away from kids and organized crime. Legalization legislation is scheduled to be tabled in spring of 2017. READ MORE: Canada Will Begin Marijuana Legalization In Spring 2017 Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.