Former Toronto politician Giorgio Mammoliti – who was widely known for his anti-drug views in more than 20 years as a city councillor – has joined the cannabis industry.
Mr. Mammoliti, who represented a northwestern area of Canada’s largest city from 1995 until his electoral defeat last October, became director of government relations for U.S. cannabis retailer Green Growth Brands within a month of leaving public office, according to his LinkedIn profile. Ohio-based Green Growth, which is considering a $2.8-billion bid to acquire beleaguered Ontario-based cannabis producer Aphria Inc, confirmed the hire to Cannabis Professional on Thursday, immediately raising eyebrows from some industry insiders.
“He was a massive road block on city council and especially to the cannabis community,” said Abi Roach, owner of Hotbox Holdings, which includes accessories retailer The Good Grass. “Mammoliti was one of the most anti-drug and cannabis councillors Toronto has ever had. For him to go work for a cannabis retail company is beyond hypocritical.”
The company declined an interview request on behalf of Mr. Mammoliti, noting he is “new to the role”, and Mr. Mammoliti did not immediately respond to a request sent to a personal e-mail account. His LinkedIn profile says he joined Green Growth Brands in November, 2018.
As a policymaker, Mr. Mammoliti had a long history of opposing cannabis legalization, including the allowance of retail. In June 2016, for example, he spearheaded two consecutive efforts to defer committee debate on a motion for Toronto to adopt a similar policy as Vancouver by creating a quasi-legal licensing framework for the dozens of illegal cannabis storefronts that were operating at the time.
“I do not want dispensaries coming up at every corner of each of our communities and I think the federal government needs to step in,” Mr. Mammoliti said in response to pro-cannabis protesters that attended the second of those meetings, held on June 27, 2016.
In 2013, Mr. Mammoliti publicly advocated mandatory drug tests for Toronto City Councillors to expose those that “use marijuana.” Toronto-based journalist Siobhan Morris tweeted late Wednesday that Mr. Mammoliti told her “in a long-deleted [direct message] that he thought Toronto should opt out of physical cannabis shops.”
Green Growth Brands only has one physical cannabis storefront right now, The+Source dispensary in Las Vegas, but the company plans to have roughly 100 stores open across the United States and Canada within the next two to three years, CEO Peter Horvath told Cannabis Professional in mid-November, 2018, just before the company started trading on the Canadian Securities Exchange.