Since last spring, Toronto police have raided about 50 of the city’s marijuana dispensaries and charged dozens of people with drug trafficking. It hasn’t come close to stamping out the illegal pot shops, though — dozens still operate across the city.
That cautionary tale is not far from the minds of Ottawa police as they ponder what to do about the 15 pot shops that have opened here.
Several Ottawa city councillors have said the dispensaries are breaking the law and should be closed. Parents in Orléans are furious after a dispensary opened in a building on St. Joseph Boulevard that also houses a martial-arts studio and a tutoring centre for children.
Ottawa police are investigating the pot shops, said Insp. Michael Laviolette. But they are taking what he calls a “measured approach.”
“We have to ask ourselves, what is the risk to the community? We are investigating them, we aren’t ignoring them. We’re not kicking the doors in with the tac team, guns ablazing, à la Toronto, the way they did it. All those places they kicked the doors in in Toronto? They re-opened the very next day. Is that what you want as a citizen in the City of Ottawa?”
While some Ottawa residents have complained about the dispensaries, others object to the idea of public money spent on raiding them when marijuana will soon be legal, said Laviolette. In Toronto, there was public criticism over the dispensary raids.