Article by Nicole O’Reilly, Hamilton Spectator
Marijuana business is booming in Hamilton, just not with the street-level pot dealers of the past.
Gone are the days of marijuana-exclusive drug dealers and police busting large grow operations; common are illegal medical marijuana dispensaries in brightly-lit storefronts and multi-million-dollar grow facilities clamouring for federal medical licences.
“It’s everybody trying to get ahead of the game because they think that legislation is going to change,” said Hamilton police vice and drug Det. Craig Leishman.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says marijuana legislation to legalize the recreational market should be ready this summer, with a federal task force recommending the provinces control of the wholesale distribution. But where exactly that marijuana will be legally sold — and when — remains to be seen.
The year 2013 marked the beginning of the shift in Hamilton, after Health Canada began licensing commercial medical marijuana growers. The dispensaries followed, with illegal store fronts popping up. That’s when Hamilton police busted its first dispensary, yet enforcement has done little to stem the growing marijuana movement.
Insiders say it’s been in the last year that the industry — both legal and illegal — has begun to rapidly pick up steam with legalization looming on the horizon.