Pubdate: Tue, 11 Apr 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Author: Jennifer Pagliaro
Page: A3


Steady stream of customers out of luck as raid shutters popular Queen
St. E. retailer

"Another one?"

A steady stream of exasperated, would-be customers standing on the
sunlit sidewalk outside the Toronto Leaf Dispensary on Queen St. E.
and Jarvis St. on Friday afternoon share a common refrain.

Just after 1 p.m., uniformed police officers and the city's bylaw
enforcement officers walked up to the frosted glass door of the
as-yet-illegal weed dispensary for a second go at raiding it.

The first time didn't go as planned; the uniformed bylaw officers
couldn't get inside the first time they tried as there are five
cameras installed outside the front door and an intercom for entry,
the Star was told.

This time, they arrived with a police escort and a warrant in

The quiet raid is only marked by the "open" sign on the storefront
being extinguished. Still, it's not signal enough for the dozens of
prospective customers, some whom are surprised, while others are
infuriated to find a police officer on the other side of the door.

In recent months, Mayor John Tory has repeated the city's position
that marijuana shops will be subject to enforcement if they continue
to open and operate without a licensing regime in place.

Police and bylaw enforcement raids have continued, most recently
snaring pot activists Marc and Jodie Emery and their Cannabis Culture
chain stores as the city awaits word on legalization from Prime
Minister Justin Trudeau's federal government.

The Star was tipped off about one such raid and watched it play out
over the course of several hours.

The officers only get so far at first; past the front entry is another
locked door employees refuse to open, Mark Sraga, the city's director
of investigation services, tells the Star outside the shop. A
locksmith is called in to assist. Ayoung man sporting a duffel bag is
at first mistaken for the man with the right tools. The intruder is
quickly expelled from the shop, turned away like the others. The real
locksmith arrives shortly after.

Just hours earlier, it was rare for there to be a 10-minute stretch
before a new customer entered the popular store that has earned rave
reviews online.

"Toronto's new best dispensary. Amazing service. Top notch bud.
Beautiful store and knowledgeable staff. Must visit when in Toronto,"
says one commenter on the dispensary site

Both a man wearing a Canada goose jacket and boat shoes driving a
Mercedes G-Class SUV and scruffier characters walking in off the
street appear to be regulars at the retail store flanked by a boutique
and a shuttered Thai restaurant to the west and Moss Park to the east.

"Is this a wise use of resources?" asks William Snitzler, speaking to
a reporter standing next to a marked police van. "How much money are
they using? How much manpower? Going to a judge, getting a warrant,
getting actual logistics in place and then executing it. This is
taking money and for what?"

Another man interrupts to ask if the store was raided.

"Closed, closed, closed, yeah," Snitzler says. "That one's closed too
across the street. Don't even bother!"

Employees, the Star was told, now face obstruction bylaw offences for
earlier denying enforcement officers entry to the store. Additional
criminal charges against four employees are expected, but have yet to
be confirmed by Toronto police.

More than an hour after police first arrived, two customers, trapped
inside when the raid occurred, are escorted out. Later, out come four
employees in handcuffs, including two men decked out in fashionable
Raptors and Blue Jays gear.

The pot, advertised online in dozens of strains including "Grapefruit"
and "Hawaiian Dream," would soon follow in evidence bags. Cash was
also seized.

As the hours tick on, a rotating shift of officers from 51 Division -
the Star counted at least eight - make their way in and out of the

A man who says he's survived cancer and is a medical marijuana user,
is upset to learn the Queen St. store has been raided.

"I don't blame the police for doing this," the man

He explains the shop acts as a bridge between his regular shipments.
It has kept him off painkillers and free of their unwelcome side
effects. He anxiously tries the locked door anyway.

Some arrive at the store on the recommendation from elsewhere, to
purchase a particular strain or to find a shop that's still open.

One thing many seem certain of is that it won't stay closed for

"I'm sure they'll be open in about two days or so," says one man as he
walks back the way he came, empty-handed.
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