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One illegal marijuana shop reopens after police raids
At least one of four illegal marijuana shops closed by City of Toronto officials has reopened.
Over the past several days, Toronto police and bylaw officers from the city’s Municipal Licensing and Standards division have been conducting enforcement raids at the four weed shops that operate under the “CAFE” brand.
The shops, on St. Clair Avenue West, Bloor Street, Fort York Boulevard and Harbord Street, are all openly operated as unlicensed sellers of marijuana.
Staff at the newly re-opened CAFE weed shop on Harbord St. install a life sized photo of the window that was blocked by concrete blocks.
In a statement to CTV News Toronto, city officials confirmed they have shut down these storefront operations before and they have laid more than 70 charges against the owners and operators of CAFE since last November.
Officials have also tried unsuccessfully to physically close the shops in previous visits.
According to Mark Sraga, the MLS Director of Investigation Services, those attempts have included “changing the locks and other locking mechanisms on the doors”.
Sraga says they didn’t work because employees broke into the shops and continued operating.
“So now we've taken the next step in our enforcement authorities and we've put in hopefully a more permanent solution to stopping them from selling illegally.”
The solution appears to be large concrete barriers, which city crews placed in stacks in front of the entrances of the four shops.
Concrete blocks are seen being placed outside of a CAFE dispensary on Bloor Street West on July 18, 2019.
Concrete blocks are seen in front of a CAFE dispensary on St. Clair West on July 18, 2019.
Concrete blocks are seen being placed in front of a CAFE dispensary on Harbord Street on July 18, 2019.
Not everyone was convinced the move would work, with some customers calling the closures “ridiculous.”
“They close it down every other week then they open up a day or two later and I think it is a waste of the city’s resources because cannabis is now legal and there are a lot of people that use it for a lot of legitimate different reasons,” a woman said outside the Harbord Street location on Thursday morning
“So why are they wasting the city’s money and police time to raid a place like this.”
“The only license they have is a license to print money and they just laugh at all of this. They put up these cement blocks and they just remove them,” another woman said.
And by early Thursday afternoon, that’s exactly what had happened.
The CAFE store on Harbord was back open for business, and business was brisk.
A steady stream of people could be seen coming and going from the shop, and a regular rotation of black SUV’s arrived out front to pick up and drop off buyers as part of an improvised shuttle service from the other still closed locations.
City officials say they are still in the process of reviewing their findings from these latest raids and have yet to decide on any further charges.