Toronto: Police Raid Pot Shops Resulting in 90 Arrests, Hundreds of Charges

Update: see previous posts May 21, 2016 Toronto: Pot Shops Under Attack, April 30, 2016 Toronto: May Soon Crack Down on Cannabis Dispensaries

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Toronto Police executed “Project Claudia” and raided 43 unlicensed store front cannabis dispensaries in Kensington Market, along the Danforth and other dispensaries, leading to 90 arrests of dispensary owners & their employees and 257 zoning by-laws and criminal charges were laid. The raids yielded 270 kilograms of dried marijuana, 30 kg of resin, 25 kg of hash, 27 kg of pills, 73 kg of chocolate, 142 kg of cookies, 129 kg of candies, 101 kg of bars, 135 e-cigarettes, 457 drinks, 127 kg of oils and spreads, 121 kg of other marijuana byproducts, 32 grams of powered cocaine (at one location) and $160,000 in cash which was seized as evidence in the raids. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Raids on storefront pot dispensaries in Toronto where police believe marijuana is being sold illegally are being called “ridiculous” by some critics.

“I guess we’re all going back to the street to get our pot,” said one man who identified himself to CBC News as John.

He said he came to CALM’s dispensary on Church Street in downtown Toronto “to get my meds, but unfortunately the police have broken down the door and told me they were out of business.

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Toronto police raided this store front cannabis dispensary in Kensington Market at 34 Kensington Ave. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
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The Canna Clinic in Kensington Market at 44 Kensington Ave was raided by police. There are two other locations located at 793 Dundas St. West and 2352 Yonge St. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

“It’s going to be legalized in a year, it’s kind of ridiculous this is happening,” added John, who told CBC he’s had a medical marijuana licence for eight years and uses pot to relieve pain from two hip replacements and arthritis in his knee.

Officers from the drug squad, working with the city’s municipal licensing and standards investigation bureau, began executing the warrants at noon ET, police spokesman Const. Craig Brister said.

“We’re looking at locations that are identified as trafficking in marijuana outside of the marijuana for medical purposes regulations,” said Brister. “If people are legally using it, then they have nothing to worry about.”

He added that the dispensaries targeted in Thursday’s raids are the same ones whose landlords were provided with a letter of caution on May 18.

“This investigation has been going on for a while,” Brister said.

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In Kensington Market alone, there at least six dispensaries selling medicinal marijuana within a one-kilometre radius. This is the Kind Supply located at 206 Augusta Avenue. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Property of Ontario Motor Vehicle Tickets
Toronto police raided this store front cannabis dispensary in Kensington Market, at 179 Baldwin Street. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Police called the operation “Project Claudia,” but Brister didn’t explain the significance of the name.

The hashtag #ProjectClaudia began trending in Toronto late Thursday afternoon, and many on Twitter called the raids a waste of police resources.

Chief Mark Saunders responded with a tweet Thursday afternoon.

Toronto Chief Mark Saunders said search warrants were executed after letters were sent out to store fronts on May 18 advising them of city zoning bylaw violations and operating outside Canada’s medical marijuana regulations. He also said that f you don’t have a licence from Health Canada and you’re distributing marijuana it’s unlawful. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Toronto Chief Mark Saunders said 43 search warrants were executed after letters were sent out to store fronts on May 18 advising them of city zoning bylaw violations and operating outside Canada’s medical marijuana regulations. Saunder added that if you don’t have a licence from Health Canada and you’re distributing marijuana, it’s unlawful. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Brister said police will release information about arrests or charges at a news conference to be held at 10:30 a.m. ET Friday.

He declined to specify how many shops were targeted in the operation, their addresses or in which neighbourhoods they are located.

After the 43 search warrants were executed at noon at 43 Cannabis Dispensaries; 90 people were arrested and 186 Possession for the Purpose Trafficking charges and 71 Proceeds of Crime charges were laid.
After the 43 search warrants were executed at noon at 43 Cannabis Dispensaries; 90 people were arrested and 186 Possession for the Purpose Trafficking charges and 71 Proceeds of Crime charges were laid.

Richard Arfin and Barbara Allen were having tea near the Carrot Common on Danforth Avenue when they saw officers “bash in” the doors of three dispensaries across the street.

“They clearly had a plan and were really prepared, it was very much like a TV show,” Arfin told CBC News. “People were walking by with their strollers and nobody was really bothered.”

Another shop "WEEDS" has opened up on the Danforth. Trudeau has announced that his government will be launching a task force within the next few weeks to closely examine and evaluate every aspect of their goal to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana.
WEEDS at 341 Danforth Ave, was one the cannabis dispensaries that were raided by Toronto police in project “Claudia”. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
The Danforth has seen three (3) stores recently open up, all in close proximity to each other. The Green Rhino, WEEDS and S.H.E.D.
Weeds Cannabis Dispensary at 341 Danforth Ave. Toronto’s zoning bylaw does not allow for marijuana dispensaries, and a conviction for operating a business without zoning carries a $50,000 fine for a corporation and $25,000 for individuals. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Arfin said he doesn’t want his neighbourhood to become “pot central” and disliked “the idea of there being three or four stores within stone’s throw of one another.”

“This is a family neighbourhood,” he said.

Allen echoed Toronto Mayor John Tory’s sentiment that “medical marijuana dispensaries are verging on being out of control,” and he expected the raids to happen.

The Green Rhino, a store offering medicinal cannabis to clients on the Danforth.
The Green Rhino Medicinal Cannabis Dispensary at 339 Danforth Ave was raided, along with three other dispensaries in close proximity to each other on the Danforth. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

A recently opened Medical Cannabis Dispensary "The Green Rhino" on the Danforth.

“I have tremendous sympathy for people who need to use medical marijuana, but this feels like it’s going beyond that. Somewhere, boundaries have to be drawn,” she said.

Tory declined to comment on the investigation.

Tammy Robbinson, spokeswoman for the city, said municipal standards officers issued charges Thursday against the business owners and operators of the dispensaries for zoning bylaw contraventions, along with other municipal bylaw charges.

Zoning bylaws permit only the distribution of medical marijuana from a production facility that has been licensed by Health Canada as a licensed producer.

Robbinson said any business that is distributing or selling medical marijuana, other than a licensed producer or health care practitioner, is in violation of the city’s zoning bylaw.

Earlier this month, the city’s municipal licensing and standards department issued notices to 78 property owners out of a known 83 medical marijuana dispensaries.  The notices said the dispensaries were contravening the city’s zoning bylaw.

For information about the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations from Health Canada, click here.

S.W.E.D. Dispensary has opened up on the south side of Danforth Ave., close to WEEDS and the Green Rhino. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
The S.W.E.D. Dispensary was one of the cannabis dispensaries that had recently opened up at 333 Danforth Ave that was raided by Toronto police. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Cannabis Dispensaries in close proximity to each other. S.W.E.D. is located at 333 Danforth Ave, further east is WEEDS at 341 Danforth Ave and the Green Rhino is located at 393 Danforth Ave. All expect a booming business.
All four (4) cannabis dispensaries recently opened up on the south side of Danforth Ave in close proximity to each other (Green Rhino, WEEDS, Medical Club and S.W.E.D. Dispensary). All were raided by Toronto police as part of Project Claudia. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

During Project Claudia today at noon, Toronto Police attended 43 separate locations in Toronto, serving and executing 43 search warrants.

The following cannabis dispensaries were raided by police:

1. Cana Boss Dispensary – 1684 Queen Street West
2. Canna Bank Dispensary – 3505 Dundas Street West
3. Weeds Glass and Gifts – 1332 Queen Street West
4. Weeds Glass and Gifts – 2452 Bloor Street West
5. Green Cross Club – 699A Lawrence Avenue West
6. Kanbi The Dispensary – 1715 St Clair Avenue West
7. Medical Club – 377 Marlee Avenue
8. Natures Touch Dispensary – 1346 St. Clair Avenue West
9. Up Dispensaries – 1792 Eglinton Avenue West
10. Weed the North – 1532 Eglinton Avenue West
11. Weemedical Dispensary Society – 568 St. Clair Avenue West
12. Weemedical Dispensary Society – 1602 Eglinton Avenue West
13. York Dispensary – 1478 Eglinton Avenue West
14. 416 Medicinal Health – 850 King Street West
15. Cannawide Dispensary – 34 Kensington Avenue
16. Cannawide Dispensary – Top Shelf – 160 Baldwin Street, Unit 3
17. Eden Medicinal Society – 760 Queen Street West
18. The Green Room Society – 402 Spadina Avenue
19. Cannabis Dispensary – 66 Nassau Street,
20. Holistic Cannabinoids – 179 Baldwin Street
21. Weeds Glass and Gifts – 611 College Street
22. WeLeaf Dispensary – 5 Bruyers Mews
23. Maricare – 3808 Bloor Street West
24. SoCo (Social Collective) – 1874 Wilson Avenue
25. Hempsterz Hemp Shop and Lounge – 65 Martin Ross Avenue, Unit 9
26. GW Weed Emporium – 2226 Kingston Road
27. Scarborough Dispensary – 1260 Kennedy Road
28. SoCo (Social Collective) – 2347 Eglinton Avenue East
29. The Rolling Bud – 4234 Lawrence Avenue East, #5
30. Buddha Pharm – 399 Yonge Street
31. CALM – 600 Church Street
32. Medical Compassion Clinic – 125 Church Street
33. Rainbow Medicinal Cannabis – 69 Queen Street East, Unit #201
34. CALM – Canadian As Living Medicine – 7 Breadalbane Street
35. Calm on the Avenue – 538 Eglinton Ave West
36. Weeds Glass and Gifts – 92 Avenue Road
37. S.W.E.D. – 1898 Danforth Avenue
38. BC Cannamed – 2116 Queen Street East, Unit C
39. Green Rhino – 393 Danforth Avenue
40. Medical Club – 337 Danforth Avenue
41. S.W.E.D – 333 Danforth Avenue
42. Weeds Glass & Gifts – 341 Danforth Avenue
43. GW Weed Emporium – 2226 Kingston Road

Click here for a map of the locations.

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