Police begin crackdown on marijuana dispensaries across the GTA
Published Wednesday, May 18, 2016 6:11PM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, May 18, 2016 6:50PM EDT
Toronto police have begun cracking down on illegal marijuana dispensaries in the city and have already issued notices to property owners across the GTA, CTV Toronto has learned.
According to Toronto Police spokesperson Mark Pugash, the notices are being hand-delivered to owners of properties where marijuana dispensaries are operating. The tenants currently running the dispensaries are not being issued notices at this time.
Pugash said the notices warn property owners that police are aware of “unlawful activity” occurring on the premises and that the activity is “affecting the health, safety and security of the community.”
The notice states that police will proceed to monitor the property and will consider taking action if the activity continues.
It was not immediately clear what kind of action would be taken.
Under the Criminal Code and the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, if a crime is committed in relation to a property, it can result in seizure and forfeiture.
According to a police source, Toronto Police Services are working with both the federal crown and the city of Toronto bylaw enforcement to distribute the notices. The city will distribute their own notices in the near future.
Pugash would not disclose the number of dispensaries hit with notices on Wednesday but said its likely “dozens.”
Despite the fact that only licensed manufacturers authorized by Health Canada are legally able to sell marijuana in Canada, there are currently about 100 marijuana dispensaries operating in Toronto.
There are currently 18 licensed producers in Ontario.
The Globe and Mail reported on Wednesday that the Cannabis Friendly Business Association -- an organization that advocates on behalf of marijuana entrepreneurs in Canada -- called an ‘emergency meeting’ at Toronto’s Hotbox Café in Kensington Market. According to the Globe, lobbyists, consultants and business owners gathered to discuss strategies that would challenge the legality of the fines dispensary operators could face in a police crackdown.
Back in April, Ottawa announced it would seek to introduce legislation to legalize marijuana sometime in 2017.
Police agencies have complained that the discussion surrounding pot legalization has created confusion and blurred the lines between regulations for recreational marijuana and medical marijuana.
Last week, Mayor John Tory sent an open letter to the executive director of the city’s Municipal Licensing and Standards committee Tracey Cook urging authorities to take action on the increase of marijuana dispensaries.
“Left unaddressed, the number of these dispensaries will only increase,” Tory told reporters last Thursday. “This proliferation brings with it potential health risks for individuals who patronize dispensaries where the substance for sale is completely unregulated.”
He also called for a report on the marijuana dispensary regulations completed by June.