Article by Kieran Delmont, Now Toronto
There’s a reason why dumb crime stories are so entertaining: there’s something morally satisfying about the bad guys being the architect of their own demise.
On January 30, two masked men entered Green Buddha Medicinals marijuana dispensary on College. One was armed with a revolver; the other carried a hockey bag. According to police, they demanded cash and marijuana. As they were loading the bag, the store clerk managed to escape through the front door and locked it, leaving the two men inside.
Police say the thieves, attempting to get out, discharged their firearm several times into the front door. The alleged culprits, aged 17 and 19, were arrested a short time later.
But lately it’s the owners of pot dispensaries in Toronto who feel as if the police are asking them to become the actors in another kind of dumb crime story.
After a string of pot shop robberies – four since the new year and 13 since last June, half of which have gone unreported by dispensary owners – it’s clear that theft is a growing problem in the Toronto storefront industry. And it’s now a public safety concern for police for more than the obvious reasons.
Many dispensary owners feel they have nowhere to turn.
If they don’t report robberies, they’re forced to eat their losses; if they do, they risk charges and their product being seized by police. In two recent cases where dispensary robberies were reported, police laid possession for the purposes of trafficking charges against the owners who had reported the crimes in the first place.
In the wake of the robberies, Toronto police have given notice that until full legalization is in place, marijuana dispensaries are not legal, leaving dispensary operators without the police protection they deserve, says defence lawyer Paul Lewin.