HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Police Target Pot-friendly 'Yongesterdam'
Pubdate: Sat, 22 Nov 2008
Source: National Post (Canada)
Copyright: 2008 Canwest Publishing Inc.
Author: Matthew Coutts, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal - Canada)


Cafe Sees Raid After Officers Allegedly Sold Drug-Laced

Police flooded the burgeoning counterculture neighbourhood known as
Yongesterdam late on Thursday, raiding an openly marijuana-friendly
cafe after undercover officers allegedly purchased a mug of hot
chocolate and snacks laced with drugs.

A sign on the door of the three-storey Kindred Cafe, near the corner
of Wellesley Avenue and Yonge Street, read "closed for renovations"
yesterday afternoon as a string of would-be customers left

"I don't know if it is part of a sweep or just someone with a grudge,"
said Chad Cooke, an associate connected to the cafe.

"This is basically a medical marijuana place and if someone wanted to
come and smoke their own marijuana they were free to do that," said
Gary Veal, who is legally allowed to smoke marijuana for the chronic
pain he suffers from due to degenerative arthritis. "It's a shame the
community has lost this resource."

Kindred Cafe has been operating for more than three years near several
other shops and cafes that have established an unofficial pot-friendly
district known as Yongesterdam.

The cannabis district includes Vapor Central, a smoky upstairs lounge
where dues-paying members gather around bongs and vaporizers; Sacred
Seeds, a shop that sells medicinal plant seeds; the Kindred Cafe; and
Toronto Hemp Company, a three-floor hemp store that specializes in
accessories such as bongs and rolling papers.

Mr. Cooke and Chris Goodwin, the manager of Vapor Central, say the
area is a major draw for tourists involved in the marijuana culture. A
walking tour of Yongesterdam is available, with stops at six shops.

"We can do 300 or 500 people a day in here and all those people would
have to be somewhere else getting high," Mr. Goodwin said of Vapor

The Kindred Cafe's menu describes the shop as "many things to many
people," offering some of the finest coffees and edibles in the world.

"If you are seeking a 'higher level of Cafe enjoyment,' for a very
reasonable fee you can acquire a day pass or longer-term membership
which entitles you to rent time in one of our decadently appointed
private rooms ... and to spend time on our fantastic smoke-friendly
rooftop patio," it reads.

At about 7 p. m. on Thursday, more than a dozen police officers raided
the coffee house, seizing furniture, coffee machines and smoking
paraphernalia. A group of activists gathered outside the shop as
police loaded the store's contents into a truck.

Toronto Police said someone in the community complained about drug use
in the cafe, leading to a series of undercover operations during which
officers allegedly purchased drinks, milkshakes and snacks containing
marijuana, and ending in the raid.

"It was pretty vindictive. They basically wanted to shut this place
down so people can't work," Mr. Cooke said.

There were about a dozen people in the cafe at the time of the raid,
he said, several of whom were charged with possessing drugs. A number
of customers with permits legally allowing them to smoke marijuana for
health reasons were allowed to go, he said.

The three-storey cafe is frequented by medical marijuana smokers as
well as recreational users, and allowed dues-paying members to
privately consume the drug in rooms and on a rooftop patio.

"This is a cafe, a fair trade, organic coffee shop," Mr. Cooke said
yesterday. "Yes, on the rooftop there is a situation where people can
bring their own marijuana and smoke their own marijuana.

"There was never any trafficking. If anyone were to find that
happening, those people were ejected immediately," he added.
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