Article by Toronto Star Editorial Board
Last May, when police raided illegal pot shops across Toronto, Mayor John Tory said he was worried about their alarming proliferation near schools and in residential neighbourhoods. “We cannot just have the Wild West when it comes to dispensaries cropping up on every street corner,” he said.
The mayor was right at the time. Distressingly, his concerns now seem understated after police made clear this week just how dangerous these shops can be to their customers, staff and neighbours.
Clients and employees alike have been stabbed, beaten, pistol-whipped and pepper-sprayed in the course of 13 armed robberies in the past eight months at illegal pot shops. And those are just the thefts that police know about.
That’s because shop owners dont always report the robberies for fear that police will confiscate their marijuana supplies.
That thinking is just plain dangerous for all concerned: employees, customers, neighbours and passersby.
“I realize there is no legal obligation to report a crime, but where is your moral sense of an obligation?” Toronto Police Supt. Bryce Evans asked pot shop owners who don’t report robberies. “When will you step up to the plate for your employees (and) customers?”
Here’s a better idea. Instead of acting as magnets for criminals, pot shop owners should close down until the federal government passes legislation on how and to whom cannabis can be sold. Then it will be up to the province to decide who can operate retail outlets and where; that may well include well-regulated, secure dispensaries.