Toronto police and bylaw enforcement delivered notices to 20 dispensaries yesterday, telling the shops they have three days to shut down or their landlords will face fines.
“They were going in with licensing, and sometimes with police, and giving out letters to the tenants to give to their landlords,” said Cannabis Friendly Business Association spokesperson Abi Roach. “They’re forcing the tenants to tell their landlords to kick them out.”
Roach said the city is showing complete disregard for medical cannabis patients.
“They’re trying to dictate where, when and how people can use their medication,” she said.
The enforcement action comes as a result of a May 10 council meeting in response to a letter from city councillor Cesar Palacio that saw Etobicoke York Community Council direct councillors in Wards 5, 6, 11, 12, 13 and 17 to begin the inspection of dispensaries “and take all enforcement action as deemed appropriate.”
Roach said she’s only received word from businesses in these wards about receiving the letters.
Roach said people in the community are clearly upset, and, despite the city’s deadline of three days, even if landlords do decide to comply, they’re still obligated to give a month’s notice to their tenants.
After consulting with a civil lawyer, Roach said it’s up to the landlords of dispensaries to come together and deliver a legal rebuttal to the city.
“Now it’s just a matter of getting the word out to landlords and let them know that there are options, they don’t have to kick them out,” said Roach. “A lot of these places are hard to rent, cannabis shops have taken over basement spaces, upstairs, second-floor spaces, and on and on.”
A licensing and standards committee meeting today on dispensaries was also pushed back to June 27, when staff will report on the development of a regulatory framework for dispensaries.
The Cannabis Friendly Business Association is preparing their own motion that they hope will be supported by a councillor to delay the city’s efforts to regulate dispensaries until at least August, when the federal government will reveal an updated set of regulations around medical cannabis.
“It makes no sense right now because, as it stands, the MMPR is sort of in limbo so there is no place for patients to really legally go,” she said. “For the city to jump the gun, it just opens them up to a whole bag of legal actions.”