Article by Michael Talbot, CityNews
On the same day that a handful of legal marijuana shops opened up across Ontario, Premier Doug Ford singled out one city for being too lenient when it comes to stamping out the black market.
During a conference on Monday to announce the scrapping of Drive Clean Tests, Ford not only railed against the newly-implemented carbon tax, but vented his frustration with the city of Hamilton for allowing illegal marijuana shops to “pop up like mushrooms.”
“My biggest frustration to be very frank is Hamilton,” the premier said. “Hamilton, last time I checked they had 50 some odd pot stores out there. Who is doing anything about it? I can tell you one thing, if one convenience store ever put alcohol in their store they would be closed down in an hour.
“They are illegal,” Ford stressed. “There’s been more than enough warning.
“The question to Hamilton: Why are you turning your head on this?”
Hamilton police spokesperson Jackie Penman countered, saying officers have been actively working to combat the black market, shutting down 29 illegal dispensaries since marijuana became legal on October 17, 2018.
She also refuted Ford’s claim that “50 some odd” pot stores are operating in the city.
“We currently have 12 illegal cannabis dispensaries in Hamilton and there are two legal stores set to open around April 20,” she said in an email to CityNews. “We have been working closely with the Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team to enforce the new legislation.
“We know this process will take time but we are dedicated to investigating and apprehending those individuals and businesses who are producing, selling and importing cannabis outside of the law.”