Toronto Police Raid Cannabis Culture Storefront
Cannabis Culture, Canada’s leading marijuana magazine and dispensary chain, was the latest victim of a string of raids in Toronto. The Cannabis Culture downtown Toronto storefront was raided Thursday morning and its staff were arrested.
According to the City of Toronto Licensing and Standards, the Cannabis Culture dispensary and others were shut down due to zoning infractions. The Canna Clinic dispensary was also raided.
“RAID ALERT!!! Just heard Toronto Police are raiding our Cannabis Culture Toronto shop at 801 Queen St. West!” Jodie Emery tweeted.
Employees Erin Goodwin and Pete Melanson were among those arrested by police. Erin Goodwin, can bee seen in a photo with handcuffs and throwing a peace sign as she was arrested. “My wife and I have two children, and we have them this weekend, and they may be without their stepmother,” Erin’s husband Chris Goodwin told the Toronto Star. “I’ve called her mom and dad. They are obviously very upset. As much as they appreciate the activism we do, it can be upsetting.”
The police stings began in May, in a covert operation called ‘Operation Claudia’. Overall, 43 dispensaries were raided and 90 employees were arrested. Many locations were observed with their scissor gates closed and the windows taped over. The only way Canadians can legally get a prescription for cannabis is through licensed Health Canada distributors. The Toronto police consider many of the locations to be operating illegally.
The Toronto police could not be any less popular at the moment- Just months ago, Canada’s newly appointed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to legalize marijuana in Canada. The people of Canada rightfully voted in the Liberal party on the basis of legal cannabis.
“This is turning into such a nanny state.” Rick Davidson, a bystander said.
The police continued to crackdown, even with legalization just around the corner. “We’re going to continue. If you have dispensaries and they’re open, your chances of going to court and being charged and being convicted, I strongly recommend that you stop,” Toronto’s police chief Mike Saunders said Thursday. Some worry that they are exhausting resources for one last year.
Saunders said he doesn’t plan on waiting for recreational cannabis to kick in. He attempted to defend the first wave of raids last month. “Whenever we’re doing any type of narcotics search warrant, it’s very rare that we tell you weeks in advance, ‘By the way, you’re breaking the law and we’re going to be coming,'” he quipped. According to the poice, the raids are a result of neighborhood complaints.
Toronto’s mayor expressed his opinion to continue to enforce cannabis prohibition for another year. “I support [the decriminalization of cannabis.] It is the right thing to do, Mayor John Tory said. “But the law is not going to be changed for a year or so. And in the meantime, I’m just saying we can’t afford to have the Wild West.”
Canada’s Health Minister Jane Philpott said that legislation to legalize cannabis would move forward in spring 2017.
Benjamin Adams has been a journalist since 2006 and is the Californian correspondent for Cannabusiness.com.
His written work has been seen in Cannabis Now Magazine, Culture Magazine, and Treating Yourself Magazine. He’s also written for Merry Jane and MedicalMarijuana.eu
Benjamin studied Art and Argumentative Writing at the University of Utah.
He’s tried cannabis in places ranging from Copenhagen to Jamaica.