As Canada moves closer and closer to a nationwide legalization of cannabis, authorities across the Great White North made it very clear on Thursday that the old rules are definitely still in effect.
Yesterday, police departments throughout Canada raided seven Cannabis Culture dispensaries, arresting the store’s owners and confiscating as much product as they could.
According to Leafly, Marc and Jodie Emory, the celebrity cannabis advocates who openly run 20 dispensaries under the same brand across Canada, were arrested Wednesday night at a Toronto airport, on their way to a cannabis expo in Spain. The next morning, seven Cannabis Culture dispensaries across Canada, including all five locations in Toronto, one in Hamilton and one in Vancouver were raided by local authorities.
While Jodie and Marc Emory awaited a bail hearing, a Toronto police spokesman stated that five other arrests were made during the raids and 11 search warrants were executed, including four residential homes, in addition the seven pot shops. During the raid of the Hamilton shops, police took the employees’ phones but didn’t make any arrests. One budtender borrowed an onlookers phone and live-streamed the aftermath.
While medical marijuana has been legal in Canada for years, some dispensaries have been jumping the gun on recreational legalization, selling to patients without medical IDs. The Cannabis Culture raids appear to be a harsh reminder of the country’s current laws.
“Our history of enforcing the law against illegal cannabis dispensaries is well established,” Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said. “This is the latest effort in our law enforcement, and I’m certain there will be further action.”
But as far as cannabis advocates see it, the laws are outdated and unnecessary. And with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigning under the promise that he would support recreational legalization, the raids just seem cruel.
“Co-ordinated country-wide raids attempting, futilely, to enforce an outdated and harmful law degrades public confidence in the administration
of justice, wastes valuable taxpayer funds, wastes scarce police, prosecutorial and judicial resources and benefits precisely no one,” Vancouver lawyer and cannabis advocate Kirk Tousaw said.
As for Jodie and Marc, reports say they will both face a bail hearing today, but as of now the exact charges haven’t yet been disclosed.
If Canada really is going to be on the cutting edge of cannabis legalization, the least Trudeau and his people can do is keep so-called cannabis ‘criminals’ out of jail. If the raids had any positives, it was that the local cannabis community came out to support the shops even while police blocked entrances and confiscated product.
Check out the video below from the Vancouver raid, where activists formed a sit-in line in front of police outside the dispensary.