Pubdate: Thu, 25 Aug 2016
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The London Free Press
Author: Dale Carruthers
Page: A5


Delays in legalization to blame for spike in illegal dispensaries,
critics say

Foot-dragging on the federal Liberals' pledge to legalize pot is to
blame for the spike in illegal dispensaries across Canada, causing
chaos for cops and two-tiered policing like seen recently in London,
opposition critics charge.

London police last week raided Tasty Budd's, which opened in public
defiance of the law, seizing inventory and charging the owner and an
employee with drug trafficking. But two other pot dispensaries that
have operated below radar in the city for years, remain open.

Wednesday, underlining the hazy terrain critics contend the Trudeau
government has left with its vow to legalize marijuana, three
representatives of Tasty Budd's were at the busted store readying it
to reopen this week.

Investigators wouldn't say why the Wharncliffe Road dispensary, a
franchise of an East Coast operation, was raided six days after
opening while the other two were left alone.

But NDP justice critic Murray Rankin says the Trudeau government's
unclear plan on marijuana reform leaves police in a bind.

"Police are doing their best in the face of this chaos that the
Liberals' dithering has created," the Victoria MP said from his B.C.
riding. "And I think the police are caught between a rock and a hard
place. They realize activity is going on in their communities that's
contrary to the law, but they don't feel they have the backing to proceed."

Conservative justice critic Rob Nicholson echoed those concerns,
blasting the Liberals for leaving cities to deal with dispensaries
without guidance.

"They said it's a local thing, but they're providing no resources, no
guidance on this," Nicholson said from his Oshawa riding. With an
estimated 350 dispensaries operating across the country, different
cities have taken different approaches to tackling the issue.

Toronto police have been raiding dispensaries since May, seizing
inventory and laying charges.

Toronto police said they targeted businesses they'd received
complaints about. Many raided dispensaries have reopened since.

In Vancouver, city officials have licensed some dispensaries and fined
others for operating without required permits.

"How can we live in a country where the same activity is treated so
dramatically different?" Rankin, a former lawyer and law professor,

Nicholson said he's worried about public safety, saying marijuana sold
at dispensaries may be contaminated or laced with other drugs.
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