Toronto police conducted a sweep of dispensaries across the city on Thursday morning. The operation, known as “Project Claudia” is targeting 45 dispensaries, according to Leafly.
There’s no word of any criminal charges, as of Thursday afternoon, but Toronto’s Municipal Standards Officers have issued zoning and municipal by-law charges, according to The Toronto Star. These raids could result in fines up to $50,000 and jeopardize the businesses involved.
Dispensaries that have been raided include: BC CannaMed, Canna-Connoisseurs, Cannawide, Eden Medicinal Society, The Green Room, Kind Supply Dispensary, Toronto Cannabis Dispensary, Toronto Holistic Cannabinoids (THC), and Weeds Glass & Gifts.
What the hell happened?
Toronto police and Mayor John Tory maintain that the sweep was brought on by a plague of criminal activity on the part of these dispensaries, but some prominent voices are saying that the move has more sinister motivations.
Constable Caroline de Kloet told the star that police “targeted various locations that have been identified as trafficking in marijuana outside of marijuana for medical purposes regulations.”
Mayor Tory has expressed clear dislike for the city’s dispensaries, saying, “these so-called dispensaries” are ”conducting activities that are not within the law and I just think we can’t have them popping up on every street corner and near schools and messing up the livelihood trying to be earned by small business.”
But a Huffington Post blog posited earlier this week that the Mayor’s anti-dispensary attitude has to do with some serious lobbying on the part of Cannabis Canada, a trade association of Canada’s licensed marijuana producers, who feel threatened by a recent onslaught of smaller dispensaries.
Canada’s Supreme Court has found that the current regulation system, which restricts access to marijuana for some companies while letting it flow freely to others, “have not been proven to be in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”
Meanwhile, the Toronto Taxpayer Coalition, a nonpartisan government watchdog group, believes it’s Big Pharma, not Big Weed, that is behind Mayor Tory’s cannabis crackdown. Taxpayers are footing the bill for a crackdown that’s meant to eliminate prescription medicine’s competition, the group claims.
“We understand Mayor Tory faces the burden of intense lobbying from big pharmaceutical companies hoping for control of medicinal marijuana distribution,” writes Toronto Taxpayers Coalition president Andrea Micieli. “We hope the Mayor chooses to prioritize the health of vulnerable taxpayers before the wallets of lobbyists, and stops the use of city resources to enforce unconstitutional regulations.”
Whether it’s rich weed dealers or rich pill slingers who are responsible, both the Huff Post and the TTC (neither of which seem to have a horse in the race or a reason to pick a side) believe that there are unethical reasons for the Toronto dispensary raids.
As the Huffington Post put it:
“Why is [Mayor Tory] asking city staff and police to enforce a law that has been deemed unconstitutional? Why is he not recognizing the authority of the Supreme Court or his duty to uphold the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms?
The money, of course.”
When full nation-wide legalization is enacted soon, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has claimed it will, these issues of the State’s biased interference in the marijuana market is likely to only expand.
Photo via Flickr user Dank Depot