There’s no shortage of ridiculousness regarding the recent Project Gator raids on Cannabis Culture shops across the country.
There’s the fact that people were thrown in jail due to selling products that are supposedly going to become legal any day now.
Or that the raids were organized by Toronto police, whose former chief is meant to be the person steering the path towards legalization.
Or that Vancouver police, who had previously made the principled decision to leave dispensaries alone pending new laws, were evidently happy to do the bidding of their bigger city counterparts.
Or that the value of LP stock shot up due to the perception this was a victory for Big Pot at the expense of the underground craft cannabis industry.
Or that Ottawa cops are pretending they weren’t actually part of it and simply happened to raid a newly opened Cannabis Culture shop the same day by coincidence.
But perhaps the most ridiculous thing about this whole fiasco is the name Project Gator itself. It’s easy to assume it was chosen because alligators are apex predators and some cop – probably the kind of guy who calls his biceps “pythons” – thought it sounded badass.
Like the trenchcoat-wearing McGruff the Crime Dog, Project Gator would take a bite out of crime!
But it’s worth keeping in mind the Toronto Police Service actually have a history of choosing names for their major investigations quite carefully. For people who regularly spell marijuana as “marihuana,” they have a surprisingly good way with words.
For example, they named a major drug bust Project Bread Maker because it began at a Dempster Street location and Dempster is one of the country’s biggest bread brands. Project Decepticon was named after a Transformers robot who showed up on ecstasy tablets, and Project Marvel was inspired by suspects who used comic book characters for codenames.
Typically the lead investigator is in charge of picking a handle, but they sometimes ask underlings to come up with suggestions.
“Yes, sometimes [investigators] agonize over them,” Staff Inspector Randy Franks told the National Post in 2012. “I shouldn’t say we insist, but it’s been a standard that projects come along and they have names… These are serious investigations and if we add a little bit of lightheartedness, it isn’t intended to diminish the seriousness of the investigation.”
So it’s hard not to wonder about how Project Gator got its name. Here are some possible, albeit unlikely explanations:
- Alligators aren’t native to Canada, so perhaps this was a subtle dig about the time Canadian police busted Cannabis Culture founder Marc Emery at the DEA’s request for selling seeds through the mail and he ended up serving hard time at federal prisons in Georgia and Mississippi. States that both have alligators.
- It’s a play on the expression “see ya later, alligator.” Which could work given how frequently Emery finds himself arrested on pot charges.
- “Project Gator raid” sounds like Project Gatorade and even cops can appreciate a good pun.
- Project X was already taken.
- Project Croc would’ve reminded people of “crock” – a word meaning nonsense – and this would’ve been a bit too accurate for this vast waste of taxpayers’ money.
- Alligators are green. So is weed. Creativity at the T.O cop shop could be slipping.
But I’d like to think someone simply misspelled the word “gaiter,” a garment worn over shoes to keep feet dry. Because Toronto police have just stepped into a river of shit when it comes to popular opinion and they’re probably going to need them.