Marijuana dispensaries raided by police on Thursday plan to reopen
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
Published Friday, June 24, 2016 9:42AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, June 24, 2016 12:34PM EDT
Two of the four marijuana dispensaries raided by Toronto police on Thursday afternoon plan to reopen less than a day later.
Cannabis Culture on Queen Street West was searched by officers Thursday and owner Jodie Emery says three of the store’s staff members were arrested. It is not yet clear if they were charged.
Emery says Cannabis Culture will resume selling marijuana products without a medical prescription after a press conference attended by her husband, Marc Emery, dubbed by some as the “prince of pot” for his advocacy of marijuana legalization and four years he spent in a Louisiana jail for selling marijuana seeds to American customers.
Officers also entered Canna Clinic stores in Kensington Market, Trinity-Bellwoods and near Yonge-Eglinton. One of the Canna Clinic outlets told CP24 that it would reopen after noon on Friday.
A total of 23 people were arrested and charged with various drug trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime offences, police said.
Marijuana, hashish and hash oil with a market value of $289,000 was seized, along with $29,500 in cash.
Speaking in front of Cannabis Culture, Marc Emery said Toronto’s crackdown belies the fact that there is huge demand for marijuana in the city.
“I believe the City of Toronto could handle easily 1,000 dispensaries and retail outlets and in a free market we would have that.”
He said that marijuana outlets should be regulated no differently than a convenience store or a flower shop, criticizing the federal government’s approach to regulation so far, calling it “onerous and exclusive.”
“We don’t believe (marijuana) should have any more regulation than cucumbers or coffee or flowers.”
Cannabis Culture employee Natasha Grimshaw said she had the day off on Thursday and wasn’t there to see three of her colleagues taken away by police.
“It’s a bit of a relief,” she said about avoiding arrest.
As customers bought marijuana behind her on Friday afternoon, she said she fully expects police to return very soon.
“We’re kind of expecting it to happen. That’s part of this whole thing; we need to make a change so we need them to push us and for us to push back.”
Police first began cracking down on marijuana dispensaries in May when Toronto Mayor John Tory said that the proliferation of the stores, especially those near schools and other places for children, was turning into a crisis.
Then on May 26, police raided 43 dispensaries, arresting 90 people and charging them with a combined 186 charges under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act along with 71 criminal charges.
Canna Clinic and Cannabis Culture were not searched during the May 26 raids.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said police action against dispensaries would continue so long as the law will allow.