Article by Manisha Krishnan, Vice News
Raids on weed dispensaries have been panned by many as a waste of police resources, seeing as recreational cannabis will soon be legal. But recently, one Hamilton police officer broke down just how much of a strain they really are, noting that cops in that city are struggling to even store the illegal weed they confiscate.
Under federal law, no weed dispensaries are legal in Canada, but law enforcement officials in various municipalities have taken different approaches in dealing with them.
Vancouver has decided to give weed dispensaries business licenses in an attempt to regulate them, but Toronto police have taken an aggressive stance in executing mass raids such as Project Claudia. Despite the fact that vast numbers of charges issued in raids end up being dropped anyway, Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash has maintained that the raids are not a waste of time.
“The target is illegal businesses that are making large amounts of money, selling product of unknown origin that poses a health risk to people,” he previously told VICE.
He has also said it’s a mistake to look at weed raids as taking away resources from another area.
However, Supt. Ryan Diodati, head of Hamilton’s police’s investigative services, recently said the opposite is true for his force. Hamilton has at least 46 illegal pot shops, according to police, which is potentially more per capita than anywhere else in the province. In a report he presented to city council at the end of January, Diodati described in great detail just how difficult it is to shut down weed dispensaries—citing everything from a lack of storage for weed seized to the deep pockets that allow some dispensaries to re-open immediately:
“The storage of evidence depending on the size of the dispensary is tremendous,” Diodati told council.
“We have limited space for our drug storage. As you can imagine there’s the venting considerations that we have, there’s a strong, pungent odour with processed marijuana, so we can’t just put it into any closet in our police facility.”
Diodati said storing the dank weed an an external facility comes with its own security challenges.