Article by Manisha Krishnan, Vice News
Last month, Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi told weed dispensaries in the province to consider themselves “on notice.” The government has now elaborated on that ominous warning with details on how it will take down dispensaries through enormous fines and jail time.
In a bill tabled yesterday, the province said it will target individuals, corporations, and landlords found guilty of operating or facilitating dispensaries.
An individual caught selling weed outside the government’s regime could be fined up to $250,000 or imprisoned for two years if they are found guilty. Subsequent convictions could cost them up to $100,000 a day. Ditto for a landlord who knowingly rents space to a dispensary, despite the fact that they may have nothing to do with its operations.
Corporations involved with dispensaries face even steeper penalties: a first conviction would yield a fine of at least $25,000, capping at $1 million; subsequent convictions will yield minimum fines of $25,000 a day with maximum fines of $500,000 a day.
Toronto-based lawyer Jack Lloyd, who is currently defending several dispensary employees, told VICE Ontario’s approach is the opposite of what the public wants—and it might even be “criminal.”
“I think it is a criminal law in all but name and will likely be challenged in court,” he said.
He also noted the government is punishing people for doing the same thing they’re planning to do themselves. Ontario’s plan is to open 40 standalone weed shops by next summer, up to 80 by 2019, and 150 by 2020. It is essentially a government monopolized dispensary system.