The number of unlicensed pot providers and cannabis-related driving offences are on the rise in Mississauga and Brampton. This, according to a report that will be presented to Peel Regional Police Service Board April 23.
According to the Illicit Cannabis in Peel Region report, police tracked legal and illegal cannabis activity locally in the two years since recreational cannabis use was made legal in Canada in 2018. The report reveals more criminal activity, specifically of “greater violence,” occurred in unlicensed dispensaries compared to licensed establishments.
In the report, police say there were 20 calls for service at a licensed facility in Brampton. Of those, five included calls for service related to breach of court order, assault, ATM fraud, uttering threats to an animal and possession of a narcotic.
During the same period, police say there were 28 calls for service at an unlicensed business in Mississauga, where 68 per cent of calls related to violent incidents, including a stabbing, shooting and multiple possession of weapons occurrences.
Police say they executed four search warrants at the unlicensed Mississauga retail location, which shuttered in December 2020. According to police, the business has since transitioned to a mobile service and remains in operation.
From 2016 to 2018, there was a 95-per-cent increase in the number of illicit cannabis dispensaries in Peel. However, “strong enforcement and a proactive educational strategy have eliminated 75 per cent of these illegal storefronts,” said police in the report.
While the number of illegal brick-and-mortar dispensaries have been decreasing, they’ve noticed a rise in mobile pot providers.
Peel police said there are currently less than five brick-and-mortar dispensaries operating without a licence in the region. However, there was a 21-per-cent spike in the number of illegal mobile cannabis services from 2018 to 2019.
Police define a mobile cannabis service as “cannabis dealers who deliver marijuana to a customer’s location, rather than incur the overhead and associated costs of a retail store location.”
The report noted there are currently anywhere between 100 and 150 retail cannabis businesses operating illegally within the region.
Also on the rise is the number of impaired by cannabis charges laid between 2018 and 2020. According to the police report, there has been an 86-per-cent increase. In 2020, police laid 44 impaired by cannabis charges, compared to 36 laid in 2019.
The report also touched on solutions to address the increase in rates. However, it notes penalties are not deterrents to operating illicit cannabis businesses.