Article by Erik Tanner, Now Toronto
Just as the cat came back the next day, so too have the four unlicensed CAFE (Cannabis and Fine Edibles) cannabis shops shut down by the city in recent weeks.
The city has tried unsuccessfully multiple times, together with 70 provincial bylaw charges, to close the shops down permanently, issuing closure orders, installing giant concrete slabs in front of locations and even welding doors shut. Police have also made arrests. But it has all been to no avail – for now.
The city’s efforts have not stopped the unlicensed herb purveyor from plying its trade on the sidewalks on makeshift counters in front of the shops.
CAFE staff now stand outside waiting to take orders in front of concrete slabs installed by the city to block entrances to the stores.
Most of the slabs are covered in graffiti and the hashtag #OPENMARKET spray painted on them. Chairs line the sidewalk in front of the Harbord location for customers to sit while waiting for product. A 30-minute wait is not uncommon, but some orders can take up to two hours to fill.
The front door of the CAFE location on St. Clair West is blocked by a concrete slab, but not the broken storefront window. During business hours a man or woman stand behind a curtain hung in front of the broken window. You can only see their feet. You place an order on the street and soon after the purchased item arrives from behind the curtain.
When CAFE was doing business indoors, it was a city bylaw infraction. But “once it happens outside… then it becomes a Toronto police issue,” Toronto police Constable Alyson Douglas-Cook told the CBC.
At least 18 arrests have been made in front of CAFE shops. The police have also seized iPads with customer information, debit machines, pot products and walkie-talkie radios during arrests.