Toronto Police Ramp Up Efforts to Shut Down Illegal Pot Dispensaries

Article by Greg Ross, CBC News

Police ramp up efforts to shut down illegal pot dispensaries in Toronto Officers ripped apart a west-end dispensary last week, but say shutting down pot shops is difficult Greg Ross . An officer from 12 Division pries open the front door at the California Cannabis dispensary on Weston Road. (Joe Fiorino/CBC News). Toronto Police Sgt. Todd Storey holds several bags filled with marijuana that were seized as part of a raid at the California Cannabis dispensary on Weston Road. (Joe Fiorino/CBC News). Sgt. Todd Storey says police have conducted five raids in the last three months at California Cannabis. (Joe Fiorino/CBC News). An officer prepares to remove a giant sign in front of California Cannabis. (Joe Fiorino/CBC News). Kendra Stanyon is a criminal defence lawyer who has represented dozens of former employees at Toronto marijuana dispensaries. (Oliver Walters/CBC News). Yasir Naqvi, Ontario's attorney general, says the province has given police the tools they need to shut down illegal dispensaries 'and keep them closed.' (CBC)

Police used a hammer and a crowbar to smash the locks and pry open the front door.

Once inside, they didn’t find any employees, but they did find a few hundred grams of marijuana.

Last week, police raided the California Cannabis dispensary at 1608 Weston Road for the fifth time in less than three months. Each time they seized a number of items inside, including computers, cash and, of course, all of the pot.

But as police step up their campaign to shut down illegal storefront cannabis operations, last week’s raid underscores a frustrating reality for law enforcement. They’ve been able to close the dispensaries and charge hundreds of employees. But the businesses seldom stay closed and the majority of charges are dropped.

“We’ve actually watched them go out and get new monitors the next day, new Bell lines for their Wi-Fi,” said Sergeant Todd Storey of 12 Division. “So they’re up and running on the internet, so they can tell their customers what they have, where they are, and that they are open.”

But Storey, who says officers seized financial ledgers from the shop that indicated they were taking in upwards of $7,000 dollars a day, told CBC Toronto police are stepping up their efforts to shut California Cannabis,, and storefronts like it, down for good.

“We’re taking all the signage, we’re taking all the cameras, we’re taking all of the display cabinets, the containers that have held the marijuana,” Storey said.

Usman Ahmad, who lives just a few doors down from California Cannabis, watched as police loaded everything onto a moving truck, to be taken away and used as evidence.

Ahmad says he first noticed the dispensary about six months ago, and residents in the area have been complaining to police ever since.

“You don’t feel safe in your own neighborhood,” Ahmad said.

Read the full article here.

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