Pubdate: Tue, 21 Feb 2017
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Chris Doucette
Page: 4


Owner alleges thousands of dollars in damages

Cory Stoneham admits he's an outlaw running an illegal pot

And the owner of Weed the North accepts police raids go with the
territory while dispensary operators await pot legislation from the
federal government.

But Stoneham believes Toronto Police went "above and beyond their
duties," allegedly causing thousands of dollars in damage while
executing a search warrant last month at one of his two booming pot
shops in the city.

"If (police) want to conduct a raid, that's their business. We'll
fight any charges in court," Stoneham told the Toronto Sun. "But they
have no reason to smash the sign off the front of our store ... and
rip our decals off of the windows."

Stoneham opened his first store at 1532 Eglinton Ave. W. last year on
April 20 - aka 4/20, the day cannabis users gather to celebrate pot.

At the time, more than 80 such shops had sprouted up in the city
prompting cops to launch Project Claudia - a crackdown that saw 43 pot
shops raided, including Weed the North.

One of Stoneham's employees was arrested in that raid, but he said the
charges were later withdrawn and all seized property, except the
cannabis, returned.

Stoneham, who has a medical marijuana licence for chronic pain, was
back up and running the next day and he opened a second location in
Kensington Market in July 2016. But he claims he's still recovering
from estimated losses of more than $50,000 in product and legal fees.

While cops continued to execute search warrants regularly at
dispensaries after Project Claudia, both Weed the North shops managed
to fly under the radar until Jan. 18 when the Eglinton West store was
raided again.

This time Stoneham claims police were more destructive.

Four employees were charged with possession of mari-juana,
trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime. A fifth worker was
charged days later.

Stoneham alleged police also damaged his storefront sign and the wrap
that covers the front window preventing people from seeing in from the

The shop has opened again, but he estimates the damage, legal fees and
lost business cost him about $25,000. That doesn't include the cost of
the cannabis seized.

Stoneham also claims police smashed open an ATM, owned by a third
party, then added the nearly $10,000 from the machine to the $10,000
taken from the shop when they announced publicly that $20,000 in cash
was seized as proceeds of crime.

Although Toronto Police spokesman Pugash said he was unable to comment
on the ATM allegations, he admitted the shop's window wrap ripped when
officers tried to collect it as evidence.

But he maintained cops did not smash Weed the North's storefront

"The sign was seized as part of the search warrant," Pugash said. "It
is intact and in our custody."

However, photos snapped after the raid show a piece of the sign
hanging from the frame above the shop, suggesting it was damaged.

Meanwhile, hours after the Toronto Sun questioned police about the
Weed the North raids, Stoneham received a call from police telling him
to surrender so he could be charged with offences similar to those
faced by his employees - even though he wasn't at the store the night
of the raid. He turned himself in at 13 Division Friday, was processed
then released.

Toronto lawyer Selwyn Pieters, who has been critical of the dispensary
raids, said dispensary operators can launch a civil action for any
damages that occur during a raid.

"A search warrant doesn't authorize police to damage property," he
said. "It simply authorizes police to enter the premises, so if they
damage property they have to pay for it."
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MAP posted-by: Matt