Police Raid Cannabis Culture Dispensaries Across Canada
On Mar. 9, Marc and Jodie Emery were arrested and charged with various drug offenses after police raided seven of their Cannabis Culture dispensaries in Ontario and British Columbia. The activist couple was en route to Spannabis in Barcelona when they were detained at Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
Prior to the raids, 19 Cannabis Culture shops were operating in three provinces; five locations in Toronto, and one each in Hamilton and Vancouver were targeted. Other Cannabis Culture locations remained closed as news of the raids spread, the Vancouver Sun reported.
Medical marijuana is regulated in Canada, and the federal government has announced its intention to legalize recreational cannabis. Currently, 40 licensed producers (LPs) serve the country’s patients. Many other unlicensed dispensaries like Cannabis Culture operate in a legal gray area.
While Marc Emery has been busted more than 30 times in Canada and served a five-year sentence in the U.S. from 2010–2014 for selling cannabis seeds across the border, it was his wife Jodie’s first arrest. They were charged with conspiracy, trafficking and possession of cannabis, and released two days later on the condition that they stay away from Cannabis Culture dispensaries and cease their business activities with the shops.
“This is a political persecution,” Jodie Emery told the Vancouver Sun. “Police and the government are preventing us from being able to exercise our right to be active and to run businesses.”
Cannabis lawyer Kirk Tousaw also condemned law enforcement’s actions against the Emerys: “That we continue to waste resources and ruin lives in the pursuit of the futile goals of cannabis prohibition is immoral and a national disgrace.”
Toronto dispensary workers arrested for drug trafficking in previous raids saw their charges dropped a week after the Emerys were busted. Toronto councilor Jim Karygiannis described the withdrawal as proof that raids are a “waste of money,” while criticizing the slow pace of legalization on the federal level. “It’s mind-boggling,” he told the Ottawa Citizen. “Get the regulations in place.”
Canada’s pot czar Bill Blair has hinted at even further delays. He told Bloomberg that the federal government “will take as much time as it takes to do it right… because I don’t know how long this will take.”
News of the raids was welcomed by the LPs, whose stocks rose as much as 6%.
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