Pubdate: Fri, 23 Jun 2017
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The Toronto Star
Authors: Laura Howells and Jaren Kerr
Page: GT2


Canna Clinic's Toronto stores shut down after Tory voiced concerns
about pot shop rise

In a series of mid-morning raids Thursday, police shut down marijuana
dispensaries operated in Toronto by B.C.-based Canna Clinic.

All seven of the company's storefront locations in Toronto were
raided, as well as five residences, said Toronto police corporate
communications director Mark Pugash. There were also three raids in

A bar owner near the company's Kensington Ave. clinic said police came
around 10 a.m. Customers were allowed to leave before police closed
the store.

Officers at the scene said they were going to arrest the staff members
and seize all illegal drugs.

A number of people who appeared to be employees were seen leaving the
store around midday. One was crying, and others looked defeated and

An employee who did not want to be identified said that the police
confiscated the phones of all the employees, except for him, as he
told them he did not have one.

"I voted for Trudeau to legalize this, and I just don't see the damage
that I'm doing," said James, an employee at the Kensington location.
"It's just small guys getting stomped on."

Many who visited the Kensington dispensary were concerned that raids
would increase the use of opioids.

"Do you want an opioid problem? Then continue raiding every single
marijuana place that is actually saving people, actually getting jobs,
actually bringing in revenue," said Kofi Wiafe, who tried to visit the

Wiafe cited his mother, a cancer survivor, as someone who deals with
chronic pain by using the dispensary's products. "If this place wasn't
here, she would be on opiates, and every single person knows that if
you're on opiates you're going to get hooked on it."

"I am just wondering what the police department is doing about the
opioid crisis that is currently sweeping Toronto right now," said Andy
Gardener, another visitor.

"I don't think that they know how to tackle it. They don't have the
resources so they're tackling and raiding dispensaries because there's
really nothing else that they can do."

"It's not like we want to be doing this, it's a waste of everyone's
time," said an officer, whose badge read "M. Furfaro," who was
involved in the raid.

At the Queen St. W. store, Toronto police Det. Darren Worth said nine
employees were detained in the store. He said all of them had been
arrested and that police would seize "all the illegal drugs" and the
proceeds from sales.

Customers continued to arrive at the store while the raid was
underway, but were turned away by police.

Staff members were later released from the store, but said the
officers had seized their phones.

"We do know we take a risk by working here," said Laura Glatt, who was
working in the dispensary when police arrived.

"Me personally, I'm all for the risk because I believe in the
medicinal aspect of it and I believe it helps a lot of people."

Glatt said she understands the police officers are just doing their
job, but thinks Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs a better strategy
as Canada moves toward legalization of marijuana. "All you're doing
right now is hurting people," she said. "I just think it's sort of
ridiculous, a waste of resources."

Staff members leaving the store said they expected the clinic would
reopen within a day or two.

Last week, Mayor John Tory said he was concerned by the rise in the
number of rogue pot shops in Toronto a year after the city's first
crackdown resulted in dozens of arrests and charges.

Municipal licensing and standards staff estimate there are currently
60 outlets selling weed in the city. The lowest number has been 37.

Tory, a member of the police services board, stopped short of calling
for another crackdown.

"I am hopeful that our authorities will decide on their own just
because the law is being disregarded, to go out there and enforce the
law but I don't direct them to do that. I'm simply indicating my own
concern as the mayor of the city."

- - With files from Betsy Powell
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt