Q&A: Sharon Kerr, the Torontonian who wants to keep pot away from schools
Toronto native starts petition, ran for trustee in effort to protect children from marijuana legalization
After the election of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, marijuana legalization is now a given. It’s coming, all that’s left are the details. And this is what concerns Toronto native Sharon Kerr. She wants to make sure that any marijuana sales are located far from schools, and she has started a petition to drive home her point.
Have you been in contact with members of Toronto City Council and Premier Wynne? And have they provided a policy response to your petition?
I have written to all of the local city councillors in the Scarborough community council area, asking them to take action on behalf of the parents and families here. I will be sending the same request to the remaining 34 city councillors including Mayor John Tory. Only councillor Jim Karygiannis has responded thus far. He told me he will be moving motions in keeping with the request for a school-area ban.
How many signatures have you received so far?
It’s been a whirlwind of activity. I have teams of parents — I call them the mom brigade — who have been gathering signatures. We are at about 600 signatures so far, and we have received about 200 of those online.
When legalization comes to Toronto, do you think the LCBO is in the best position to offer the products for sale?
I don’t know where the sale of recreational marijuana should be located. I just know that parents tell me they don’t want it near their children’s school. My petition calls for a prohibition of at least 500 metres away from schools and recreation centres.
The legal age will likely vary from province to province. Do you think it should be the same age as drinking alcohol, 19 or 18 or 21, like in the United States?
Just like I can’t think of any good age to start smoking cigarettes, I can’t really answer that question. The effects of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, on the developing brain is extremely negative. I am not trying to be alarmist, but I don’t know of any parent who would sanction their child 18 or 19 years old indulging in pot smoking. My husband and I worked very hard to see our two kids go to university. Smoking recreational marijuana will not contribute to their academic success. I want my own kids studying so they can achieve to their ability. I want the same for all students in the Toronto District School Board, which is why I’m running for trustee.
Should Ontario ban the sale of edibles, such as pot candies, that have raised concerns regarding young people?
Yes! Parents need to know that recreational marijuana legalization will bring all the social ills of big tobacco but with the intoxicating effects of alcohol. Marketing to young people is what we used to see with tobacco products. I fear that, if we don’t get out in front of the politicians, we will have big trouble. Hundreds of retailers will start selling it and the politicians will say, “Oh we can’t stop this; it’s too popular now.” Although proponents say pot is “less harmful” than alcohol, I don’t know anyone who got harmed from living a drug-free life.