SLAW can always be relied upon for a good overview…….

Smoky Ethical Waters Around Marijuana Dispensaries

by Omar Ha-Redeye

If you take a stroll pretty much anywhere in downtown Toronto these days, you’re likely to walk into one of the dozens of marijuana dispensaries that have popped up everywhere in the city. But just as quickly as they arrived, they are being shut down too.

On Thursday Toronto Police conducted a sting dubbed “Project Claudia,” with search warrants executed for 43 different locations, seizing 270 kg of products. That’s fine, these dispensaries are still illegal, and are not part of the process for distributing medically required marijuana use.

Project Claudia wasn’t just about shutting these dispensaries down. The police arrested 91 people, laying 71 criminal charges and 186 charges under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. A bit of overkill, some people would say, when considering the government has announced an intention to legalize marijuana by next May 2017. Across Canada, police services have demonstrated less enthusiasm for enforcing marijuana laws.

Others find the actions entirely justifiable. Rosie Di Manno stated in an editorial, Pot Raids Aren’t Political, Just a Matter of the Law,

Until Ottawa legalizes pot, that’s what you are, folks – traffickers, no different from the gang-banger peddling crack in the park. Chasing the money.

Blow that out your self-righteous bong.

Except the Code is filled with provisions which are rarely enforced and entirely antiquated, including witchcraft, crime comics, oyster theft, duels, and immoral theatrical performances. Until actively repealed, if at all, are technically still on the books.

At the Liberal Biennial in Winnipeg this weekend, one anonymous protest told me,

Stop Project Claudia. Stop arresting innocent workers, and stop wasting tax dollars on this.

Unless the dispensary is one of those which has other illicit substances, for example the small amount of cocaine found during the raid, I’m inclined to agree. These aren’t necessarily gang bangers and dangerous criminals.

Toronto Police have noted that over half of these dispensaries are located close to schools, which might also be another reason for shutting them down. If the charges related to sale of marijuana to minors, I’d be far more inclined to support pressing charges.

In the meantime though, we’re clogging our courts with more cases that really doesn’t align with our country’s values and where our laws are going to be in the very near future.