Press Release by Tracy Lamourie
Hamiltonians have been wondering why there was no mention of last week’s police raid of many of the city’s dispensaries in the media. Through the grapevine, words has gotten out beyond the many employees at Hamilton’s dispensaries to the greater public. With seven raids over two days and six of them within just hours of each other, people are asking if the police silence on the issue thus fair is indicative that they understand the average person thinks that moving against dispensaries for selling a product that will be legal across the country in just a few months time, is a less than effective use of the cities’ resources. With people pointing out they’d much rather see police budget being spent on the fentanyl crisis, and Hamilton’s rash of armed robberies than moving against peaceful people for providing selling a product the government itself is planning to be ringing up sales on in less than six months time.
“The recent raids by Hamilton police are disappointing,” says one time dispensary owner Britney Anne Guerra, one of the first to set up shop in the city, first as Medicine Cabinet and then opening Cannabis Culture on King Street. She is no longer allowed to own a dispensary, and the old Cannabis Culture store is now called Hamilton Village Dispensary and is under new ownership. HVD is also Canada’s only legal dispensary at this time, selling only to patients with a prescription, under Superior Court injunction.
Speaking of what some Hamilton activists are calling the city’s own Project Claudia, Guerra says:
“This city has been struggling for decades and the dispensary boom has brought many jobs and customers to Hamilton,” Guerra points out. She makes an excellent point when she says “the city should look into licensing these businesses instead of sticking to the profiteering agenda of the Wynne liberals. The money could be going to the municipality instead of the province.”
Guerra is not just “blowing smoke” when she talks about “the profiteering agenda of the Wynne liberals,”… and when cannabis advocates like her point out that those still arresting dispensary owners and employees are the very same people that profit from squeezing the trailblazers out of the business, its not just paranoia.
Hamilton Ward 3 City Councillor recently said something similar to the CBC, “The current system criminalizes small business owners while government insiders are getting rich.” Interestingly, the very system the Ontario government plans -he Ontario Cannabis Corp – may be ruled unconstitutional (* see Comeau/Cannabis Culture case.)
The mainstream news stories below are just a few of those circulating as far away as the BBC that tell the stories of just how many former police chiefs and politicians are now profiting from what they are calling an emerging industry. Cannabis activists point to the hypocrisy of those who spent a lifetime making and enforcing the laws that continue to punish and even jail the very people whose hard work made that industry possible. As Guerra succinctly put it, “They spent their lives criminalizing and jailing cannabis users only to turn around and profit off of it.”
It’s hard not to side with the cannabis activists on this one. Particularly galling to activists and almost unbelievable to the casual reader is the story illustrated in the headline about Julian Fantino : “Former police chief who once said legalizing pot is like legalizing murder launching weed-related company.”
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