Toronto Cops Worried About Uptick in Weed Dispensary Robberies
Photo via THE CANADIAN PRESS
Drugs

Toronto Cops Worried About Uptick in Weed Dispensary Robberies

Recent stickups highlight why the current system is broken.
January 24, 2017, 6:02pm

It's no secret that the business of pot in Toronto has been pretty chaotic, as of late. As much peace of mind that the drug brings to many of us, it turns out that dispensaries haven't been sharing the same tranquil experience recently.

So far in 2017 alone, there have been four major pot robberies—that the public officially knows about. Dispensaries have been stripped of their inventory and two places didn't call the cops.

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In two of the robberies, suspects came in with guns loaded. In another case, the suspects also sported knives. According to Supt. Bryce Evans, who spoke with the CBC, employees and customers have been "stabbed, pistol-whipped, pepper-sprayed." Needless to say, it's been an experience that has shaken many dispensaries. "There's no doubt employees and customers have been traumatized by these violent, armed robberies," said Supt. Evans.

As nerve-wracking as these robberies are, they don't come as a surprise. In 2016, there were a total of 13 (known) robberies in the Toronto area. According to cops, six of those went unreported.

Read More: Canadians and Americans Spent $72 Billion on Weed Last Year

It's understandable that dispensaries are hesitant about coming forward and informing the police about robberies given that the police are just as likely to raid them. Cops and the weed business have an "it's complicated" relationship status, to say the least. Supt. Evans said on Monday that previous Toronto Police dispensary raids were done with accordance to the law as "marijuana dispensaries are illegal," although that stance might be confusing to Torontonians who see fancy, new dispensaries open for business on virtually every commercial street in the city.

Inst. Steve Watts said, "This is absolutely a public safety issue now." Toronto Police are urging dispensaries to come forward and report the robberies if and when they happen.

Trudeau's promise to legalize pot was one of the centrepieces of his 2015 election campaign and the Liberals have slowly begun making progress. The Liberals task force into marijuana released their legalization recommendations in December, which include  a minimum purchase age of 18, taxes linked to THC content and legalizing home grown weed.

While the Liberals were originally targeting spring 2017 as a legalization date, it seems more realistic to circle the end of the year or early 2018 as the time for the move to become law.

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