Article by Kate McGillivray, CBC News
With legalization legislation looming this spring, should police continue to arrest and charge people who run marijuana dispensaries?
Toronto police had a clear answer this week: yes.
On Wednesday and Thursday, Toronto police helmed an operation that saw 11 search warrants executed at dispensaries in three Canadian cities and five people arrested — including Canada’s so-called prince of pot, Marc Emery, and his wife — for charges that range from possession to trafficking.
Notably, raids were carried out at the behest of Toronto police in Vancouver, the only city in Canada that has drafted a set of bylaws to regulate marijuana shops in the absence of federal laws.
“The dispensary advocates want you to believe … there’s a grey area. There isn’t,” said Toronto police spokesperson Mark Pugash after the operation, which they called Project Gator. “The fact is, however you try to shine this, it is against the law.”
But critics say occasional crackdowns by police on selected dispensaries sow confusion and are a waste of police resources.
“Just because there’s not a grey area when it comes to the law in the books doesn’t mean there’s not a grey area in practice in terms of what’s happening on the ground,” said lawyer Gerald Chan.