Say it ain’t so!
The Toronto Dispensary Coalition, which serves as the governing body for medical cannabis clinics across the GTA, is steaming mad at the cops and fighting back, demanding the 90 charges that have been laid against the staff and owners of 45 dispensaries get thrown out immediately.
These charges were brought on as a result of one of the largest raids in Canadian history. Dubbed “Project Claudia,” the highly excessive actions taken by police and City Hall were condemned by the majority of Torontonians as completely unnecessary and a waste of police and city resources.
Coalition spokesperson Adolfo Gonzalez at a press conference on Monday said, “The city needs to realize that they have made a major mistake, that they’re ruining the lives of people that have families, that have futures.” Gonzalez went on to say that most of these dispensaries were operating under the rules and regulations set out by the Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis Dispensaries.
Lisa Campbell is the Chairwoman of Women Grow Toronto, an entity designed to educate and assist women interested in getting involved in the cannabis industry. A number of her Toronto members who own and work at dispensaries were arrested or unnecessarily harassed by law enforcement in last week’s debacle. “There is a civil suit that is being put together on behalf of the dispensaries who are banding together to reopen and clearly articulate to the city as well as the federal government that these are legitimate businesses that deserve to exist.” She went on to say that ironically the Toronto Board of Health at City Hall on Monday endorsed the legalization of cannabis and down the hall at the same time, the government and police were charging people.
“A number of the businesses in the Women Grow network were affected. They have since reopened and almost all [Toronto’s] dispensaries are reopening this week.” Campbell said.
When asked why Mayor John Tory and Toronto Police went ahead with Project Claudia despite the recent federal court rulings that partially paved the way for dispensaries, Campbell did not mince words and said it was “because of licensed [cannabis]producer lobbying.”
Campbell is referring to the industry-wide discussion that the licensed producers in Canada were behind enabling Tory and his gang of cops to crackdown on dispensaries. Many of the dispensary owners are implying this lobbying has little to do with the health of Canadians and more to do with the fact that dispensaries currently eat into their profit margin. “If you look at the lobby registry at City Hall which is public, Tweed has had three meetings at the city level and Tilray had ten meetings with the city leading up to these raids.”
This sentiment echoed during a very rousing speech by Jodie Emery at the recent Lift Cannabis Expo in Toronto where the Princess of Pot called shame on all LP’s that pushed for something to be done about dispensaries. Ironically the Expo was partially sponsored and paid for by Tweed and other licensed producers, so the ability for them to ignore these words was next to impossible.
Marijuana.com contacted Jordan Sinclair, Tweed’s Communications Manager about these accusations and he had this to say: “Tweed is in favour of storefront distribution. We don’t think there’s any problem with that, but we do think that there’s a problem when that distribution isn’t regulated.”
Jordan went on to clarify actions on behalf of Tweed. “What people are accusing us of, is being behind the raids and arrests themselves like we were calling for that specific action to be taken and that isn’t the case. We don’t want to see people getting arrested, all that chaos does nothing for anyone. It creates an environment where a productive dialogue is impossible.” He reiterated that Tweed disagrees with the actions of police but believes there should be regulations for dispensaries.
Jordan further pointed out that Tweed feels there is a “good medical marijuana system in Canada right now, that a lot of people are able to access and that’s all muddied when you have dispensaries out there that are providing a product that isn’t a part of the legal system.” These are sentiments that many patients and dispensary owners across Canada would disagree with, citing significant difficulty and long wait periods with various licensed producers in regards to processing paperwork, product running out on a regular basis and for that matter a lack of products that dispensaries have been providing to cover the shortfall.
No matter who or what was responsible for last week’s affront to cannabis dispensaries and patients everywhere, a matter we don’t claim to have resolved, it’s clear that Toronto Police and John Tory can’t seem to think for themselves. If they could, all they would need to do is look up recent federal court decisions to realize they are guilty parties blocking the justice system.
Photo Courtesy of The Canadian Press/Aaron Vincent Elkaim