The majority of criminal charges laid in the single largest police raid on marijuana dispensaries in Canadian history will not go to trial, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada has revealed.
Of the 90 individuals who were facing more than 180 charges in Toronto police’s May 26, 2016 Project Claudia raids of 43 dispensaries, 45 of those cases have been withdrawn or stayed and a further 27 have been settled through peace bonds — meaning the charges will not appear on the accused’s criminal records.
The data, first revealed by VICE News Canada, showed seven of the cases will go to trial in Superior Court, two will face trial in provincial court, four do not have a trial date set, three individuals have pleaded guilty and been sentenced, one is wanted on a bench warrant and the court lost jurisdiction in two cases.
Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash told Global News Thursday that although the majority of the cases won’t see the inside of a courtroom, many of the accused had forfeited significant amounts of money and marijuana products seized by police in the raids. He said that showed the profitability of the “current illegal cannabis dispensary environment.”
“We know dispensaries are selling large amounts of cannabis, they’re generating large amounts of money,” Pugash said. “We have no idea where the dispensaries are buying their cannabis … which leads to, at the very least, the possibility that they’re buying it from organized crime. But we don’t know because they won’t tell us.”
Pugash said dispensaries also pose a risk to public safety, as the businesses have been the targets of “violent armed robberies” in the past, possibly because perpetrators believed there was a copious amount of marijuana and money inside.
“What is beyond any doubt is that dispensaries are against the law, there is no grey area … And so as long as it’s against the law we’ll continue to enforce,” he said.
“There appear to be a number of dispensaries that are prepared to walk away from large amounts of money and large amounts of product, which suggests that they’re making even more money and have access to even more product.”