A Man Got Trapped Inside a Concrete-Entombed Weed Shop

The city of Toronto put the concrete up outside the unlicensed dispensary only to tear it down again when they found out the man was inside.
July 18, 2019, 4:26pm
The City of Toronto and local police are investigating after a man got sealed inside a weed dispensary by massive concrete slabs.
The CAFE location at Harbord Street near Spadina Avenue. Photo via Jay Rosenthal.

The City of Toronto and local police are investigating after a man got sealed inside a weed dispensary by massive concrete slabs.

On Wednesday morning, the City of Toronto sealed off a dispensary operated by CAFE in the Fort York neighborhood. CAFE is a chain of unlicensed dispensaries operated in Toronto, many of which are regularly shut down by police and the city. However, the dispensaries have previously been able to re-open quickly due to a loophole for dispensaries that double as residences; the province recently closed that loophole. In an effort to stop the businesses from operating, city has started entombing the dispensaries with giant concrete slabs.

This tactic seemingly backfired on Wednesday after a man became stuck inside CAFE after authorities blocked it off. While it was initially reported that the man was asleep inside at the time authorities took action, the city now alleges the man snuck back into the building after they entombed the place.

The man then called 911 for help in the early afternoon after he wasn't able to get out of the building. The concrete blocks were removed and the man was rescued by firefighters. Mark Sraga, the director of the investigative services of the City's Investigation Services Municipal Licensing and Standards (ML&S) division told VICE in an emailed statement that ML&S is investigating the incident.

"Prior to barring entry at any location, Bylaw Officers and the Toronto Police Service always conduct a thorough visual search to ensure the premise is empty and also announce their presence," said Sraga.

"Evidence shows that someone broke back into the premise, and that cannabis was once again being sold from the location. We have no reason to believe that this individual was locked in as has been claimed. This issue and all evidence will be heard before the Courts."

Sraga added that, in total, more than 70 charges have been laid in connection with CAFE locations. Police told VICE there was no raid on the location and they were only on scene to assist city officials.

After the man was reported as being trapped, the crew got to work tearing down the wall to get the man out of the building. Afterwards, they went through the whole shabang and entombed it once more.

The concrete blocks to keep Torontonians from purchasing their sticky-icky from CAFE has been used more frequently this year. In the past two days alone, three CAFE locations have been bricked up.

This story has been updated to include comment from Mark Sraga.

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