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Toronto, other cities say costs of legal cannabis will leave them millions of dollars short

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Toronto Mayor John Tory, who heads Ontario’s largest municipality, said the staff has estimated cannabis legalization will put the city on the hook for “tens of millions of dollars” in additional policing, paramedic, fire, public health and other costs.

“And the number that they said they were going to give us was, I guess, we get $3 million,” and a similar amount after that, said Tory, whose council voted Thursday to allow cannabis stores to open shop in the city starting April 1. Late Thursday, the province announced it would only issue 25 licences across Ontario for business at first, blaming national supply issues.

“It clearly is not enough to cover all our costs.”

Tory said in an interview the city’s position has been that the provincial and federal governments should pick up all of Toronto’s extra cannabis expenditures.

“We didn’t change the law (federally) and we didn’t set up the regulatory regime provincially,” he said. “Therefore property taxpayers should not bear this cost.”

Under current plans, municipalities will share — on a per-household basis — in the $40-million Ontario Cannabis Legalization Implementation Fund, set up to offset their pot-related costs over the next two years.

The fund, which will ensure that even the smallest municipality gets at least $5,000, was sliced from a $100-million grant the province received from Ottawa to help transition into the legal pot era.

Municipalities thatallow cannabis stores to open shop will get another similar grant later in 2019.

After that two-year period, municipalities will share half of any revenues generated by Ontario’s portion of the federal excise duty, should these exceed a total of $100 million over the next two years, provincial finance ministry spokesperson Scott Blodgett said in an email.

“We would like to be very clear … municipalities must use this funding to address the costs that directly relate to the legalization of recreational cannabis,” Blodgett said.

These would include any increased enforcement costs for police and public health and court agencies, he said.

Blodgett said the provincial funds would also partially cover costs related to increased use of 311 phone inquiry lines, fire and paramedic services as well as cannabis-related training for municipal workers.

In addition to excise revenues, Ontario will keep its standard 8-per-cent portion of the federal/provincial HST charged on online and store sales. The size of this cannabis pot will depend on the number of stores that eventually open across the province, Blodgett said.

“Provincial tax revenue is directed to the Consolidated Revenue Fund and is used to meet the priority needs of Ontario families such as health care, education and infrastructure,” he said.

Read more:

Mississauga says no to cannabis

Toronto opts in

More distance urged between shops, schools

But Blodgett said that only municipalities that opted to allow pot stores will be eligible for any of the provincial funding beyond the initial payment. Municipalities have until Jan. 22 to say no to the stores, otherwise they must allow them in any number and almost any location that retail is permitted. (The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario will have sole discretion over the number and placement of the stores, which can’t be within 250 metres of schools.)

King Township Mayor Steve Pellegrini said the relative pittance smaller municipalities would get from the province in the per-household formula is one of the main reasons he rejected stores.

“We’ve got 9,000 households in … the largest municipality in terms of area” in York region, Pellegrini said. “We have more roads and everything to patrol, but with a very limited population, and I would get next to zero,” said Pellegrini, whose council voted unanimously to reject the stores.

He said the $5,000 minimum the province will give all municipalities — the only payment his opted-out community will receive — is “a joke” and would not put a dent in any town’s extra cannabis costs. “That’s insulting. That’s not going to get me anything.”

Toronto police spokesperson Caroline de Kloet said the force is still calculating what its increased cannabis costs might be.

But just north of the city, the numbers have been crunched. York Regional Police estimated those costs would soar to some $7.7 million annually by 2021, said Jeffrey Channell, manager of financial services.

That would amount to $6.41 for each region resident for police services alone, Channell said, adding that many of the estimates were based on research in Colorado and Washington state, where cannabis has been legally sold for nearly five years.

But current provincial funding for all of the region’s increased cannabis costs over the next two years — including to public health and paramedic services — is only $1.40 annually per person, he said.

The force’s increased spending would arise out of some 26 changes and requirements brought on by legalized cannabis. These include roadside testing and its required equipment; increases in criminal and motor vehicle accident investigations; a team to combat any ongoing black market sales; and a new impaired-driving co-ordinator.

Colorado and Washington research suggests the main front-line policing impacts “are around impaired driving, traffic stops, seizures, drug violations, increases in motor vehicle collisions and injured persons,” he said.

Channell said tax revenues in Washington state were much higher than expected and that the federal and provincial governments might have much more money to pass down to the municipalities than currently anticipated.

That state’s $460-million (U.S.) cannabis revenues last year would translate into $3 billion (Canadian) over this country’s population if similar sales levels were seen here, he said.

“That’s three times any official Canadian estimate of excise taxes.”

But Channell said every significant police organization in the country — including the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police — has advocated for proper cannabis-related funding from senior governments.

York police Chief Eric Jolliffe said the region’s property tax base should not be responsible for any extra costs for his force.

“Both the federal and provincial governments are collecting revenues from the sale of cannabis and we have been repeatedly assured we will receive funding to help offset these costs,” Jolliffe said in an email. “As of now, we have only received a small fraction of the costs we have incurred for up-front training.”

In fairness, Tory said, many of the estimated cost hikes for police and other services may never materialize.

“For example, the volume of (311) phone calls we’re receiving at the moment is lower than expected,” he said, adding that expected increases in 911 calls have also failed to materialize.

“I’m prepared to have a little while where we actually see what the experience is. But I think it’s safe to say that as of this moment, the money they have committed to us is less than whatever our costs will be.”

Tory said estimates of extra pot costs the city would face would be above and beyond those the force incurred while policing and prosecuting cannabis crimes during prohibition, which ended Oct. 17.

Association of Municipalities of Ontario president Jamie McGarvey figures any money is better than none, but says civic leaders should monitor their cannabis-related costs closely.

“We’re going to be dealing with (any fallout costs) anyway so my own personal feeling is we’re better to opt in, because at least we’ll get some extra funding,” said McGarvey, who is also mayor of Parry Sound.

McGarvey — whose group helped lead negotiations over the funding split with the province under the former Liberal government — said Queen’s Park held all the cards during those talks.

“I think we tried to get as much as we could for the municipalities but that is totally on the call of the province,” he said. “They’re the ones controlling the pot, no pun intended.”

Tory said that in talks, the province has shown some sympathy for the idea the municipalities should not bear the bulk of extra costs. “They have accepted the principle that we shouldn’t be put to a lot of extra expense.”

Tory said municipalities have no way to force the province to up the ante, besides dogged lobbying.

“I’m not going to be satisfied with hope,” he said. “But my plan B would be to continue advocating,”

Joseph Hall is a Toronto-based reporter covering cannabis. Reach him on email: gjhall@thestar.ca



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These US entities partnered with the Wuhan Institute of Virology — time for a criminal investigation?

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(Natural News) The Wuhan Institute of Virology from which the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) is believed to have “escaped” has a number of questionable partnerships that are worth looking into in light of the pandemic.

Most of them are universities, including the University of Alabama, the University of North Texas, and Harvard University. There is also the EcoHealth Alliance, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the National Wildlife Federation.

While the relationships between these entities and the Wuhan Institute of Virology may be completely innocent, there is no way to really say for sure without a proper investigation. And this is exactly what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is calling for, as is the nation of Australia.

Pompeo and the folks down under, along with millions of Americans, would really like to know the true origins of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19). An increasing number of people simply are not buying the narrative that the novel virus originated in bat soup at a Chinese wet market, and this even includes mainstream media outlets like Fox News.

The only way to really determine what was going on at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and who else might have been involved. is to open the place up for an international investigation. But communist China is against this, of course, accusing Australia of “petty tricks” and collusion with the United States.

“Overnight, I saw comments from the Chinese Foreign Ministry talking about a course of activity with respect to Australia who had the temerity to ask for investigation,” Pompeo is quoted as saying in response to China’s aggression against a proposed investigation.

“Who in the world wouldn’t want an investigation of how this happened to the world?” he added.

As the U.S. aims to get back on track economically speaking, Pompeo believes that now is the time to hold communist China, the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and whoever else may have been involved accountable for unleashing this pandemic on the world.

“Not only American wealth, but the global economy’s devastation as a result of this virus,” Pompeo further stated. “There will be a time for this. We will get that timing right.”

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New U.S. analysis finds that lab in Wuhan, China was “most likely” origin of coronavirus release

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(Natural News) While American Leftists and most of the Democrat Party continue to serve as apologists for the Chinese Communist regime over its role in creating and then perpetuating the coronavirus pandemic, a new U.S. government analysis concludes that COVID-19 “most likely” escaped from a lab near Wuhan city.

The Washington Times reports that the analysis cataloged evidence linking the outbreak to the Wuhan lab and has found that other explanations for the origins of the virus are not as credible.

The paper reported:

The document, compiled from open sources and not a finished product, says there is no smoking gun to blame the virus on either the Wuhan Institute of Virology or the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, both located in the city where the first outbreaks were reported.

However, “there is circumstantial evidence to suggest such may be the case,” the paper says.

“All other possible places of the virus’ origin have been proven to be highly unlikely,” said the report, a copy of which was obtained by the Times.

ChiCom officials have claimed that the virus’ origin is unknown. However, Beijing initially stated that coronavirus came from animals at a “wet market” in Wuhan where exotic meats are butchered and sold in disgusting conditions.

Chinese officials claim that COVID-19 went from bats to animals sold in the market last year, then infected humans.

U.S. intelligence officials have increasingly dismissed that explanation, however, as attention has begun to focus on evidence suggesting that Chinese medical researchers were working with coronavirus in the country’s only Level 4 facility, which is in Wuhan.

U.S. Army Gen. Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said that intelligence agencies are investigating whether the virus escaped from a lab or was the result of a naturally occurring outbreak, but that analysts have ruled out reports that COVID-19 was manmade.

‘The most logical place to investigate the virus origin has been completely sealed off’

“At this point, it’s inconclusive, although the weight of evidence seems to indicate natural,” the general said on April 14, “but we don’t know for certain.”

The analysis said that the wet market explanation does not ring true because the first human diagnosis of coronavirus was made in someone who had no connection to the wet market in question. And according to Chinese reports, no bats were sold at that particular market.

At the same time, several questionable actions and a growing paper trail provide clues that the virus actually escaped from a lab, even as China begins to clamp down on those information streams.

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The biggest media lies about the coronavirus: Origins, treatments and vaccines

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(Natural News) If there is one thing that most everyone can agree on concerning the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it is the fact that there is no shortage of conflicting information out there about the nature of it. And the mainstream media is certainly doing its part to steer the narrative as part of a larger agenda, using plenty of misinformation along the way.

The following are among the most commonly parroted lies about the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that aim to distort the facts and deceive you into believing falsehoods about this pandemic:

Media LIE: The virus is not man-made

From the very beginning of this thing, the official narrative was that the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) came from a Chinese wet market where bats and other “exotic” animals are sold as meat. But the world later learned that it actually more than likely “escaped” from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The mainstream media and social media platforms went nuts trying to censor this information and even called it  “fake news.” But eventually it became undeniable that bat soup was not responsible for spreading the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) around Wuhan and eventually to the rest of the world – hence why we continue to call it the Wuhan coronavirus rather than just COVID-19.

We have even seen attempts by the media machine at making the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) a racial issue because there are supposedly more “people of color” coming down with it than people with fair skin, which further detracts attention away from the source of this virus.

Media LIE: Hydroxychloroquine is extremely dangerous and doesn’t work

The minute that President Donald Trump announced that hydroxychloroquine may be an effective, and very inexpensive, remedy for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), the mainstream media immediately began decrying this claim as fake news, even though Anthony Fauci himself praised hydroxychloroquine back in 2013 under Barack Obama as being some type of “miracle cure” for SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

There have even been studies conducted that were designed to intentionally smear the drug as both ineffective and dangerous, though one in particular purposely left out zinc, which appears to be a critical co-factor in supporting the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine – in other words, politics as usual.

Media LIE: Only a vaccine can save us from coronavirus

Many politicians and public health officials are parroting the lie that the only way America can come out of lockdown and go back to “normal” is to get vaccinated with some future vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that does not even yet exist. A vaccine, we are repeatedly told, is the only thing, or perhaps some new “blockbuster” antiviral drug, that can cure the world of this scourge and make everything happy and wonderful once again.

Meanwhile, not a peep is being made about things like intravenous (IV) high-dose vitamin C, which is being successfully used in other countries to stem the tide of infections without the need for new drugs and vaccines.

By omission, nutrition is pointless

Speaking of natural approaches to overcoming the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) that are being systematically ignored by the mainstream media and most in politics, have you heard anyone mention the importance of nutrition in all of this? We did not think so, and this is intentional.

Regular readers of this site over the years should know by now that the single-most important thing you need to do to stay healthy besides exercising regularly is to feed your body the nutrition it needs to naturally ward off illnesses, including those associated with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).

Research compiled by the Lewin Group reveals that nutritional remedies such as calcium, vitamin D, folate, omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, zeaxanthin, and more all play a critical role in fortifying the immune system, which, if properly nourished, should have little problem fending off disease.

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