Article by Nicole O’Reilly The Hamilton Spectator
More than half the illegal cannabis dispensaries targeted by a provincial task force have been in Hamilton.
“The majority of our work has been in Hamilton,” said Insp. Jim Walker, OPP deputy director of the central Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau.
“Hamilton had a high concentration for illegal cannabis stores — and still does.”
Of the 41 warrants executed provincially as of this week, 22 have been in Hamilton.
In all, 29 have been shuttered by OPP and Hamilton police here since legalization Oct. 17.
The OPP-led Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team (PJFCET) was created to dismantle organized crime and illegal cannabis trafficking. It includes officers from Hamilton police.
It used to be that raided dispensaries would pop back up, sometimes with a different name or different people, as soon as the next day. Police complained those charged would often get a “slap on the wrist” such as a peace bond.
But now with powers granted under new provincial legislation police are seizing the properties, changing the locks and installing security. They are not reopening.
When asked whether the team would estimate whether all the brick-and-mortar illegal shops will be closed in the next year or so, Walker replied “it’s going to be quicker.”
“We have a goal in mind,” he said, but would not say more.