Article by Dale Carruthers, The London Free Press
After months of turning a blind eye, London police cracked down on illegal pot shops Thursday in co-ordinated raids on five dispensaries that left marijuana activists crying foul and questioning the timing.
Employees were arrested and pot and other evidence seized during the raids, which came two days after former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, now a Liberal MP and Ottawa’s point man on its plan to legalize recreational marijuana use, was in London on his Canada-wide tour to talk to police chiefs and city officials.
“I believe Bill Blair is meeting with the police and telling them to enforce the law,” said cannabis crusader Jodie Emery, the wife of former Londoner Marc Emery, whose high-profile battles with authorities over pot laws have landed him in jail many times.
Asked this week whether he’s relaying Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s message that municipalities should enforce the law when dealing with dispensaries, Blair told The Free Press police should set their own local priorities.
Blair’s Tuesday meeting with London police Chief John Pare didn’t have anything to do with the raids, said Const. Sandasha Bough, calling it a “coincidence”.
“We’ve actually been working on these warrants now for approximately two weeks, and they were as a result of community concerns and complaints,” she said.
Witnesses described tactical officers in unmarked cars swooping in on the dispensaries Thursday before leading away handcuffed employees.