Toronto police raided more cannabis dispensaries June 23—in a sequel to last month's "Project Claudia." Raids were reported on the Cannabis Culture and Canna Clinic dispensaries, both in the herb-friendly Yonge Street area. Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters he believed search warrants were executed at four locations. Cannabis Culture is run by Canada's crusading activist couple Marc and Jody Emery, who had voiced defiance after the May raids. Marc Emery stated at the time: "We refuse to be bullied by police and unjust, harmful, discriminatory law enforcement."
Saunders warned of more raids to come, openly threatening: "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. If you have dispensaries that are open, your chances of going to court and being charged are very high... I haven't minced words on this. It's illegal to sell marijuana unless you have a license from Health Canada."
In May's Operation Claudia, police raided 43 Toronto dispensaries, arresting 90 people and bringing charges against a total of 186. Police also seized 269 kilograms of dried cannabis in those raids, along with a large quantity of cookies and other edibles.
It's a paradox that this crackdown comes as Canada prepares to legalize cannabis at the national level. On June 10, the Los Angeles Times headlined: "Canada is poised to become North America's new cannabis capital." It notes that currently, only licensed producers are allowed to distribute medical marijuana by mail to authorized users—but that's expected to change this summer following a federal court ruling this year that Health Canada must permit patients to grow their own. Ironically, former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, now a Liberal member of parliament, has been appointed Canada's "marijuana czar" by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, responsible for overseeing a policy in retail sales. His task force is expected to turn in its recommendations by November.
Cannabis is a $4.3 billion industry in the US, the LA Times reports. But in Canada, "where there are now fewer than 30 government-licensed companies, it generates no more than $150 million in sales."
Cross-post to High Times
Photo by PhotoPhreak