Toronto Police Arrest 90 in Dispensary Raids

Toronto police announced that 90 people have been arrested and 186 charges laid after a city-wide raid of over 40 medical cannabis dispensaries yesterday.

Police chief Mark Saunders announced the numbers at a press conference earlier this morning, saying that the city has received complaints that dispensaries were negatively affecting surrounding neighbourhoods and that there was no quality control on any of the products being sold in the stores.

“These locations can’t tell you what the content is…You don’t even know who you’re purchasing from,” said Saunders. “What is the source?”

The raids, dubbed Project Claudia by police, resulted in 883 kilos of product seized and fines of up to $25,000 for individuals and $50,000 for businesses.

Saunders told a crowd of reporters and activists, several of whom were escorted out, that he was not pressured politically to make the raids and that he feels charges won’t be thrown out.

The cannabis community has universally condemned the police action, with advocates outside of police headquarters denouncing the charges.

Cannabis Growers of Canada director of outreach Jaclynn Pehota called the raids regressive and representative of a failed policy.

“I dont’ think anyone was anticipating such a sweeping and brutal crackdown in such a period of time,” Pehota said. “We’re not sure what the city’s end game is with this, and we’ve called on John Tory and City Council to end this.

“The whole thing is just shocking.”

Pehota said because the city is targeting landlords, the businesses are hamstrung in terms of many of the actions they can take.

“It’s more important than ever for the cannabis community to stand together in terms of unity and speaking with one voice,” she said. “The only thing we can do is take the fight to the politicians and speak to how profoundly this damages the community.”

The Toronto Taxpayers Coalition also condemned the raids against dispensaries, saying the police action will end up costing the city more than allowing the businesses to operate.

“The shutdown of dispensaries exposes the city to significant financial liability,” said Toronto Taxpayers Coalition president Andrea Micieli. “Taxpayers are footing the bill for enforcement and possible legal challenges through the court. Instead of allocating resources to shut down dispensaries, the City should think outside the box and focus on creating a revenue stream through the eventual sale of marijuana.”

Pehota said it isn’t clear what the city’s goal is with legalization underway and a review of medical cannabis regulations expected in August.

“I think that attempting to crush the retail model in Canada’s largest city speaks loudly to an intent to want to stick with the mail order monopolistic model that the MMPR represented,” Pehota said. “We’ve been persecuted for the last 80 years and, apparently, it’s not going to stop.”

Police announced the following had been seized in the raids:

  • 269 kilos of flowers
  • 30 kilos of resin
  • 24 kilos of hashish
  • 27 kilos of capsules
  • 72 kilos of chocolate
  • 142 kilos of pot cookies
  • 129 kilos of candies
  • 64 kilos of soda and liquids
  • 126 kilos other oils and spreads
  • 160,000 dollars in cash