Marijuana dispensary reopens day after being shut down in Toronto police raids
By David Shum and Adam Miller Global News
WATCH ABOVE: Marc Emery reopens cannabis dispensary day after Toronto Police shut it down
Marijuana activist Marc Emery says he and other marijuana dispensary operators in Toronto will continue to defy authorities despite another crackdown by police that saw four more storefronts raided.
“I’m willing to go to jail and I will be selling marijuana today and all next week. We hope to stay open as long as possible,” Emery told reporters Friday morning outside a Cannabis Culture franchise in Toronto, one the locations targeted by police Thursday.
“Eventually the landlord or other agencies might intervene and force us out of business. But until then we’re going to keep trying and look for additional locations as well to open additional Cannabis Culture retail facilities because people want it.”
Police said the raids resulted in 23 arrests and $289,538 worth of products were seized including cannabis, hashish and hash oil. An additional $29,538 of cash was also confiscated.
“We’re going to continue. If you have dispensaries and they are open, your chances of going to court and being charged and being convicted are very high,” Chief Mark Saunders said on Thursday.
“So I strongly recommend that you stop selling marijuana in dispensaries right now because they are all unlawful.”
WATCH: Marc Emery compares raids on cannabis dispensaries to 1981 bathhouse raids in Toronto
The police operation comes as the federal Liberal government continues to further its efforts on marijuana legalization in Canada.
“[These are] changing times and the laws are changing as well. We completely understand that and in fact we furthermore want to say that this is not against the consumption or the personal possession of. You’ll see that none of our charges were for any of that,” said Const. Victor Kwong.
“What we are saying is that you would expect police or someone to do something if, for example, a store popped up and they started selling you food that was unregulated from an unknown source to just anyone walking in.
“If the liquor store sold liquor that was from an unknown source to anyone who walked in, I’m sure people would be asking us to do something about that.”
Kwong said the four dispensaries were given warnings before the raids took place but the owners did not comply, adding that the investigation was prompted by public complaints.
He also said police understand the position dispensaries such as Cannabis Culture have taken by reopening their stores, but said it is “very possible” more raids could happen.
Emery claims the new legislation will put in place a distribution network that would be unfair to dispensary operators and consumers.
“What we’re looking for is not the government to take over our industry but to legalize what we’re already doing. That’s what the voters wanted, that’s what we want,” said Emery.
“I believe the City of Toronto can handle easily 1,000 dispensaries and retail outlets and that in a free market we would have that.”
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has suggested that the province’s regulated liquor stores would be a good place to sell it.
Until marijuana laws become amended, Emery’s wife Jodie told Global News she wants an immediate halt to the raids being conducted in Toronto.
“The Liberal government of Canada is responsible for these continued raids and arrests,” Emery said.
“The citizens should contact the Liberal government of Canada and tell them to immediately stop arresting people.”
Emery, who takes in a profit from a dispensary franchisee that was raided on Thursday, said she received a letter from police on Wednesday saying they were aware of cannabis being sold at the establishment and an investigation is underway.
“But I did not expect police officers to show up and handcuff our peaceful employees and take them away in a van while depriving people of the ability to access cannabis,” she said.
The raids come a month after police, accompanied by city municipal licensing and standards officials, carried out search warrants at 43 locations and arrested 90 people, including shop owners and employees.
A coalition of marijuana dispensaries have said the raids on the pot shops in May were a “major mistake” and have called for charges to be dropped against those arrested.
With files from Mark Carcasole and The Canadian Press
© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Article source Global News
Prince of Pot reopens marijuana shop
BY NICK WESTOLL, TORONTO SUN
The Prince of Pot is calling for marijuana dispensaries to be governed under the same rules as food and plant businesses.
Marc Emery flew to Toronto for the reopening of his Cannabis Culture franchise location on Queen St. W. Friday morning – a day after Toronto Police raided the business.
“We don’t believe it should have any more regulations than cucumbers or coffee or flowers,” Emery said.
“Every single Canadian who has a passion for marijuana should be entitled to go into business and serve the public and serve the demand.”
Emery, a long-time marijuana activist who claims he has been arrested 28 times in Canada for pot-related offences, said he will be at the dispensary throughout the day and most of next week to work behind the counter.
“As long as we have true believers who are willing to go to jail for our cause, as I am, we will continue to open and defy the punishment the City of Toronto under the federal government is giving us,” Emery said, adding people are “voting with their feet and their dollars.”
As customers lined up on Queen St. W. Friday morning, police announced they executed search warrants at four Toronto dispensaries on Thursday and arrested and charged 23 people with drug-related offences.
Drug squad officers seized almost $290,000 worth of marijuana, hashish and hash oil as well as almost $30,000 in cash.
Police conducted the investigation in conjunction with the City of Toronto’s municipal licensing and standards staff.
Olivia Brown, a 35-year-old professional cannabis consultant from Hamilton, brought her three children to the Cannabis Culture store re-opening to show her support.
“I brought them to show them how to peacefully disobey an unjust law,” Brown said, adding she has medical permission to use cannabis to treat severe anxiety.
She said marijuana helps many people with medical conditions and has a message after Thursday’s raid.
“I really want to make it clear to Canada that this isn’t a fight against the police,” Brown said. “We are fighting against old laws.”
Article source Toronto Sun
Marijuana dispensaries raided by police on Thursday plan to reopen
Chris Herhalt, CP24.com
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.
Article source CP24