Pubdate: Sun, 18 Jun 2017
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Sue-Ann Levy


Getting weed at these clinics just a bike ride away

Last week, I biked from one midtown medical "weed" clinic to another
with one purpose only - to see how easy it was to sign up.

Armed only with a story about needing weed for my "acute anxiety," I
returned home four hours later a client of four illegal weed

Each one told me, when questioned, that they were no longer needing
prescriptions, only photo ID. I was asked to fill out a form which
included listing my "medical issues" and agreeing to at least 10
different conditions that included recognizing what I was doing was
"illegal" and that I was not to take the weed across the border.

After signing up, I was shown the emporium with containers full of
different kinds of hash - reminding me of one of the popular bubble
tea shops. The products had names like "Sweet Tooth," "Kush," "Kish,"
and "Super Kush" and sold for anywhere from $7 to $11 per gram.

I left each one with the same story: That I needed to bring my wife
back, who suffered from chronic pain (true) but was shy (not true),
before purchasing anything.

Only one, the Canna Clinic at Yonge and Eglinton, which was busy with
the comings and goings of those needing "medical" attention, refused
to sell me anything until I got a doctor's note. I had indicated on my
form I'd never used weed for medical purposes before.

My latest investigation began at the end of May when I happened upon a
man trying to solicit another - someone who looked to be a dealer -
outside the illegal Canna Clinic near my home. When I suggested to
them that we didn't want "drug deals" going on in our residential
neighbourhood, the suspected dealer - a large man - got in my face and
began screaming obscenities at me.

Not intimidated

While the encounter was not intimidating to me, I know the illegal
clinics - there are 60 in total in Toronto - have been the source of
many complaints from residents and businesses, largely due to the
pungent odours they emit, the robberies they have precipitated, the
legal business trade they've driven away and the type of characters
they bring into a family neighbourhood.

I reached out for comment to the operators of Toronto's seven Canna
Clinics, which are based in Vancouver, and with the owners of the Eden
Clinic, a Bayview Ave. shop I visited last week. Neither responded.

"It's frustrating ... I'm getting a lot of complaints from rational
people," says Mayor John Tory, noting that they're hard to manage
because they keep popping up so fast.

He says, no sooner is one put out of business, another pops up

"The police are doing what they can," says Tory, noting it takes a lot
of resources to enforce them.

Supt. Reuben Stroble of 53 Division says they've managed to reduce the
12 clinics in the area under his jurisdiction to five by raiding them
again and again.

He says some of the smaller places couldn't recover after the police
confiscated all their money and drugs but other places - like the
Canna Clinics - "have more resources and backing" and were able to
open up again.

"For some going in and arresting people and shutting it down for the
day is the price of doing business," he says, adding that the big
owners "lawyer up very well," hoping to delay court appearances until
weed becomes legal.

He feels organized crime is behind many of these clinics, especially
considering the amount of drugs being sold and the fact that the
product is usually coming in to the clinics "in garbage bags."

"Right now, we're seeing what an unregulated market looks's
a free-forall and there's no controls period," he says.

Mark Sraga, director of investigation services for Municipal Licensing
and Standards (MLS), says real medical marijuana facilities are
strictly licensed by Health Canada to operate in industrial zones of
the city only, where they can grow, manufacture and distribute medical

The 60 illegal dispensaries currently operating in the city have
nothing to do with medical marijuana, he says, and sometimes landlords
rent the locations not really knowing what's in there.

"They are, what I characterize, as 'bricks and mortar drug
dealers.'..they will sell to anybody who walks in off the street," he
said last week, noting the only recourse for MLS is to lay charges
under the city's zoning bylaw or when they sell edible products, under
their business licensing laws.

Sraga emphasizes that the illegal clinics are in it for one reason -
the "sheer amount of money they can make."

"These dispensaries are doing it because they've seized on what they
perceive as a window of opportunity," he said, speculating there will
be far fewer of these rogue places once the federal government
legalizes it and stipulates where it can be sold.

Sraga says in February they submitted an application to the superior
court seeking an order preventing the seven Canna Clinics from
operating in the city of Toronto. The application will be heard Sept.
25 and 26.)
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MAP posted-by: Matt