Article by Manisha Krishnan, Vice News
More than 300 charges against weed dispensary employees in Toronto were dropped in the last week, according to the lawyer representing the workers.
On Thursday, a Crown prosecutor agreed to withdraw approximately 180 charges against 90 former workers at Canna Clinics in Toronto in exchange for signed peace bonds requiring them to avoid working in dispensaries for the next two years. This comes just a week after another slew of charges—approximately 128—were dropped relating to the Project Lincoln raids that targeted seven Canna Clinics and six residences in Toronto as well as six Canna Clinics in BC last summer.
“It’s a progressive approach between the Crown and the defence to deal with a problem that police are dumping on the court system,” said Jack Lloyd, a lawyer representing the workers.
“Toronto police should not be arresting young people simply for working at or being inside medical cannabis dispensaries.”
VICE has contacted the Public Prosecution Service of Canada for an exact breakdown of the withdrawn charges and will update this story with that information. Last year, VICE News revealed that 72 of the charges in police’s massive Project Claudia raids in 2016 had been withdrawn or stayed. The fact that the offences aren’t sticking raises questions as to the efficacy of continuing to crack down on dispensaries.
Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash told VICE charges being dropped doesn’t mean the raids are a waste of time and money.
“A peace bond is a consequence,” he said, describing dispensaries as “illegal organizations that are generating large amounts of cash.” Police seized more than $350,000 during Project Lincoln as well as roughly 250 kilograms of cannabis.