Article by Matthew Van Dongen, Hamilton Spectator
Hamilton police say they have “redirected resources” for a major crackdown on illegal pot shops because of public complaints and safety concerns.
Marijuana dispensary operators and activists have reported raids of at least a dozen locations over the last week. Prior to the blitz, police had conducted 10 search-and-seizures total from June 2016 to last October.
Marijuana use is supposed to be legalized this summer, but the province intends to control sales via government outlets despite lobbying by independent pot shop owners seeking to be regulated like private dispensaries in British Columbia.
Ontario has also promised to make it easier under new legislation for police to shut down illegal outlets, including 47 in Hamilton. Most local shops reopen within days of a raid.
But Hamilton’s police service is cracking down now — without those new legislative tools — because of public complaints and “out of concern for community safety,” said Deputy Chief Dan Kinsella.
Kinsella said he would not talk about the number or location of raids because they are part of an ongoing operation. “Things are happening as we speak,” he said before Thursday’s police board meeting. “But obviously we have increased enforcement … we’ve redirected resources on a priority basis.”