City of Toronto cracks down on 28 illegal pot shops as legal retail stores mark first week in operation – Toronto


It’s been just over a week since legalized cannabis stores opened in Ontario, but according to the City of Toronto that isn’t stopping 28 illegal shops from continuing to operate.

City officials said they are now cracking down on the unsanctioned pot shops.

The City of Toronto raided Dallas Buyers Club on Eglinton Avenue West on Monday and the Green Apple dispensary on Milvan Drive on Tuesday.

Enforcement officers told Global News Green Apple has been repeatedly shut down with operators allegedly going through locks to reopen.

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“Often, after (a raid), the operator will go back, break the locks and re-enter the property. Now, we won’t just be changing the locks,” Mark Sraga, the city’s director of investigative services, told Global News without elaborating.

“Property owners are also at great risk. The landlord will lose access (to the property) until the matter has been dealt with by the courts.”

Enforcement officers told Global News with respect to Green Apple, both the operator and the landlord were charged.

The raids come as Toronto’s bylaw officers took over enforcement of pot shop regulations, in March, allowing Toronto police to focus on other aspects of the job.

“(We) now handle the seizures, closure orders, laying of charges and barring of entry,” Sraga said.

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“The law is very clear,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory during a press conference on Tuesday.

“As of April 1, people who are supposed to be selling marijuana are people who are licensed to do so.”

Currently, only two of the five licensed cannabis stores in Toronto have opened.

At The Hunny Pot, Toronto’s first legal cannabis shop, there is still a line on Queen Street West a week after opening day.

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Thomas, a customer who didn’t want to give his last name, told Global News the wait was annoying.

“I don’t want to have to wait in this line every time I come here. … We need more stores in the city,” he said.

Consumers said a lack of physical stores have left them with few options.

“It’s just easier to come here,” a shopper told Global News before stepped into CAFE, an allegedly illegal downtown cannabis retailer on Fort York Boulevard.

“I come here because it’s close and convenient,” said another.

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No one entering the busy store wanted to give their names, and some even asked our Global News camera to stop rolling as they walked inside.

CAFE, which has been shut down before, did not return our request for comment in time for publication.

In the meantime, Tory said he hopes the courts will “bring down the hammer on these [illegal operators].”

People charged and convicted could face fines between $25,000 and $1 million as well as lose the chance of obtaining a provincial cannabis retail store licence.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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