Pubdate: Fri, 10 Mar 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Betsy Powell
Page: GT1


Stores and homes in Ontario, Vancouver hit in 'Project Gator'

Prominent pot crusaders Marc and Jodie Emery will appear in a Toronto
court for a bail hearing Friday after police raided the couple's seven
marijuana dispensaries in Toronto, Vancouver and Hamilton.

The Emerys, purportedly en route to a cannabis expo in Spain, were
arrested at Pearson airport Wednesday evening and charged with several
drugrelated offences, including trafficking and possession for that
purpose. They made a brief court appearance Thursday.

"Marc, of course, plans to fight as hard as he can and as he always
has for the true legalization of cannabis and the end of all arrests
in Canada, as does Jodie," B.C. lawyer Kirk Tousaw said in a TV
interview from Vancouver.

Three others were also charged as part of the Toronto police-led pot
offensive called Project Gator.

The Emerys' arrest came hours before police raided five Cannabis
Culture locations in Toronto, one each in Vancouver and Hamilton, as
well as private residences in Toronto, Stoney Creek and Vancouver.

At the busy Cannabis Culture location on Church St. in Toronto, staff
and supporters gathered outside, shouting at police through the
windows and livestreaming the 11 a.m. raid from their cellphones.

Manager Mark Harrison said police took all of the store's inventory,
cash as well as employee cellphones. At the time, there were eight
employees in the store and about two dozen customers, he said.

Employees received verbal warnings but were not charged nor

The number of pot dispensaries exploded across Toronto last year after
the federal government promised to make good on its election promise
to legalize marijuana.

Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott said Thursday the government
remains committed to introducing legislation this spring, though it
will still be subject to a rigorous parliamentary and regulatory process.

In the meantime, authorities, including Toronto city officials, insist
only Health Canada approved patients are legally allowed to buy pot
from federally regulated distributors via mail or courier.

After a series of high-profile raids and mass arrests last year in
Toronto, the city appears to be ramping up its enforcement efforts
again. On Wednesday, city lawyers filed an application in the Ontario
Superior Court of Justice to try and shut down another chain of
dispensaries operating as Canna Clinics.

The city is seeking an injunction to restrain the corporate operators,
related companies, directors, officers and others, from using
locations throughout the city "to sell, store or distribute marijuana
and restraining the carrying on of any other nonpermitted use."

The application, which names the property owners, says the pot
dispensaries are not "a permitted use" on the identified properties or
on any city property.

"These operations are illegal under federal law and also operate in
contravention of the city's zoning bylaws," said a statement from
Tracey Cook, executive director of the city's licensing and standards

Toronto lawyer and cannabis advocate Paul Lewin said Thursday police
have previously raided some of the clinics, but charges were dropped
after employees signed peace bonds.

He was dismayed the city is taking this step.

"It's a terrible idea for so many reasons . . . we're using legal
resources to try to shut down dispensaries when it's going to be legal
soon," he said.

He predicted the application will ultimately fail because of the legal
grey area surrounding marijuana laws.

Lewin also suggested the Cana Clinics will remain defiant and stay

The Emerys' Toronto lawyer, Jack Lloyd, said he expects the couple
will be granted bail and released.

They are no strangers to the court system.

In 2014, Marc Emery, 59, was released from U.S. prison after serving a
four-and-a-half year sentence for selling marijuana seeds to American
customers from his Vancouverbased dispensary. In December, he was
arrested at a Cannabis Culture dispensary in Montreal and charged with
drug trafficking.

Jodie Emery, 32, was first arrested in Montreal last December - along
with Marc and eight other people-the day after Cannabis Culture
officially opened six new dispensaries in the city.

- - With files from Jesse Winter, Evelyn Kwong, Laura Beeston, Brennan
Doherty and The Canadian Press
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