Article by Sarah Hanlon, 24 Hours Toronto
Two weeks ago something truly disturbing was brought to my attention: a few potheads threatened the safety of the LGBTQ haven that is Toronto’s gay village.
A recent Facebook forum brought to light the concerns of dozens of LGBTQ community members over the behaviour of some of the customers of Cannabis Culture – a recreational pot dispensary which opened on Church this past summer.
Being one of the only recreational dispensaries in Toronto, Cannabis Culture brings in upwards of 1,000 customers a day that may otherwise not take up space in the historically gay neighbourhood.
I talked to many residents of the village – some who have lived there for decades. And while they all told me the changes they have seen on Church St. cannot be solely blamed on pot – decrease in police presence and more park drug use were mentioned – most did feel the increase in traffic flow from the dispensary plays its part.
Many being customers themselves, these village residents are happy to have a place to buy cannabis but are simultaneously concerned about changes to their neighbourhood.
Monty Tayara and Joey Viola of MOJO Toronto, a company that produces an event next door to the pot shop, saw working with Cannabis Culture on integrating the neighbourhood as something practical they could do to help foster a safer space on their block.
Especially since the community has been on edge since a gay man was reportedly assaulted on Church St.
Joey told me that “easily dozens” of people complained being spit on, were called slurs and were treated with aggression from people inside and directly outside of the pot shop.