In Canada, Former Drug Warriors Join Gold Rush Of Legal Marijuana

Julian Fantino (left) and Raf Souccar (right), founders of AleafiaScreengrab/Latest News/YouTube

Some cannabis activists are none too pleased that those who were staunchly against it are now jumping into the game.

According to BBC News, Canada's push to legalize recreational marijuana across the country is drawing an unexpected group of entrepreneurs. Politicians and members of law enforcement who were previously opposed to the move are now looking to get into the market.

In 2015, former Toronto police chief Julian Fantino was "completely opposed" to marijuana legalisation and supported mandatory jail time for minor cannabis offences.

Mr Fantino, who was also a Cabinet minister in the former Conservative government, criticised the now governing-Liberals' plan to legalise the drug, saying it would make smoking marijuana "a normal, everyday activity for Canadians".

But Fantino has since gone on to open a "health network" called Aleafia that assists people in getting connected with medical marijuana.

Mr Fantino said his turning point on medical marijuana came when he was minister of veterans affairs and met ex-soldiers who relied on it.

Fantino is not the only former pot critic turned advocate:

A number of high-profile former police officers and politicians have jumped into the industry in recent years, including Mr Fantino's Aleafia colleague and fellow ex-MP Gary Goodyear, former Ontario premier Ernie Eves and former deputy Toronto police chief Kim Derry.

Longtime advocates and activists who have worked hard to push Canada's government in this direction are feeling burned by certain critics getting into the game and are concerned that corporations might eventually take over the existing pot counterculture.

But former critic and British Columbia municipal politician Barinder Rasode thinks activists should be glad for the changes in attitude. After having a change of heart herself, Rasode now heads the National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education.

"I don't think the fact that somebody at some point had a different opinion about cannabis should exclude them," she adds. "I actually think their voices are extremely valuable."

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