Last standing former Cannabis Culture dispensary set to close doors
Kayla Goodfield, CTV Toronto
Published Saturday, April 8, 2017 5:33PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, April 9, 2017 12:27PM EDT
The so-called “prince and princess of pot” Marc and Jodie Emery confirmed that the last of the former Cannabis Culture dispensaries will close its doors this weekend.
Jodie Emery told CP24 that the last standing shop located at 461 Church Street will shut down after being a frequent target of police raids.
There used to be a total of seven Cannabis Culture locations throughout Toronto. The dispensaries were selling marijuana without a medical prescription, which is against the law, at least until recreational marijuana is legalized by the government, a move expected to happen in 2018.
Emery said that after police launched an investigation dubbed ‘Project Gator’ back in March it has been harder for the remaining shops to stay open. After the raids, the shops removed their Cannabis Culture branding. The location on Church Street, which was formerly owned by Marc Emery, was taken over by one of the employees and was renamed The Village Dispensary.
But, despite the name change, Emery said the shop continued to receive a lot of pressure from police and their landlord.
“(After) the landlord getting calls from the police it looks like the lease is being terminated and they are shutting their doors,” she said.
Emery says government is ‘getting their way’
Emery said that the recent raids come with the federal Liberals wanting to keep the recreational marijuana market clear for licensed producers who are already legally selling medical marijuana.
“It’s wrong for (the government) to exclude us,” she said. “We don’t want everyone else out. I believe in a free market, we should let everybody participate.”
Emery said that her and her husband will not have a role in the sale of marijuana if the government legalizes it as “the pioneers” will be pushed out by licensed producers.
“If anyone should be allowed to sell cannabis legally it should be those who actually fought to make it legal in the first place,” she said.
Emery’s arrested in March
The name changes for pot shops such as The Village Dispensary comes after Marc and Jodie Emery were arrested in Toronto on March 8, which marked the culmination of Project Gator.
Following their arrest, the Emery’s appeared in court at a bail hearing on March 10. They were granted $30,000 bail on possession and drug trafficking charges, with conditions including not being able to have any affiliation with the Cannabis Culture brand.
“To be banned completely from everything I’ve ever known, everything I’ve ever done – to be cut off from my work, my political activism, my headquarters – it is heartbreaking,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking – not just for me but for the tens of thousands of people who were lined up day after day to support our vision and our mission.”
Government plans to introduce new legislation
The Emery’s are scheduled to appear in court again on April 21, one day after the Liberal government is expected to introduce new legislation regarding the sale of recreational marijuana in Canada on April 20 – better known as the national holiday for marijuana users, 4/20.
Until then, Emery said she will continue to be an activist and do what she can under her current bail conditions.
“I’m going to remain committed to lobbying the government, to end the arrests and allow an equal opportunity for everyone to engage in legalization,” she said.
The law itself is not expected to be put in place until Canada Day, 2018.