Pubdate: Sat, 04 Mar 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Dale Carruthers
Page: A2


The head of a marijuana business association predicts some London pot
shops targeted by a police crackdown will soon reopen.

Police raided five dispensaries across the city Thursday, arresting
staff and seizing $170,000 worth of marijuana products and $3,200 cash.

"Of course they'll reopen. The bottom line is that cannabis is going
to continue to be sold in London," said Ian Dawkins, president of the
Cannabis Commerce Association of Canada, a national trade association
that represents dispensaries and other marijuana-related businesses.

"That's what's going to continue to happen until the federal
government recognizes that retail recreational cannabis is a reality
of North America. That ship has sailed."

Police said five men and three women were charged Friday.

Investigators haven't released their identities, citing the ongoing
investigation, but said they range in age from 23 to 55 and face a
combined 24 counts of possessing a controlled substance for the
purpose of trafficking.

The five raided dispensaries remained closed Friday. A large
storefront sign for the now-shuttered Chronic Hub on Dundas Street was

Sources say police seized security systems from some dispensaries
during Thursday's raids.

One dispensary already has vowed to restart its operation.

"Tasty Budd's in London will reopen," a management team member for the
Halifax-based franchise said Friday.

Police previously raided the Wharncliffe Road shop in August - less
than a week after it opened - and charged the franchisee and an
employee. But the business reopened days later, rebranding itself as a
compassion club.

Dispensaries are illegal under a federal law that limits the sale of
marijuana for medicinal use to a few dozen government-approved
commercial producers.

Thursday's raids came two days after ex-Toronto top cop Bill Blair, a
Liberal MP in charge of the government's plan to legalize recreational
marijuana use, visited London to meet with the police chief and other
city officials to talk about the legislation.

"We've seen this before, where anything that draws attention to lack
of enforcement in a particular region sort of embarrasses the federal
government," Dawkins said of what triggered the London crackdown.
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