Toronto police raided a recreational marijuana dispensary owned by prominent pot activists and arrested three employees. Police targeted Cannabis Culture's west-end location but not their second store in the city.
This comes after "Project Claudia," the Toronto Police Services' massive pot dispensary raid last month. In the raid, police laid 186 charges and seized over 270 kilograms of dried cannabis as well as hundreds of kilograms of edibles.
Cannabis Culture, a chain out of Vancouver, made headlines by planting its flag as the first recreational weed shop in Toronto, opening just days after the "Project Claudia" raids. It became instantly popular for catering to people who use weed for both medical and recreational uses. "When we have legalization coming for all Canadian adults, why should I have to force someone to be sick or to pretend to be sick?" Jodie Emery, co-founder of Cannabis Culture, told CBC after the first raid took place. Emery runs Cannabis Culture with her husband Marc and both have been well known pot activists for the last decade.
According to a Cannabis Culture customer named Alex Morris, undercover police officers arrived at the shop on bicycles and in a blue van around 2:30 PM, just as he was entering the store.
"This gentleman who didn't identify himself as a police officer, dressed in plain clothes said, 'You don't want to fucking go in there.'" Morris told VICE. He didn't realize they were cops until they were inside.
Another bystander named Mike, who didn't want to give his last name, was also going into Cannabis Culture when the police arrived. "They threatened to confiscate my phone if I took any pictures, on a public sidewalk, saying that they would use it for evidence and stuff," he said.
After about an hour, police exited the shop with three employees in handcuffs and detained them in a police van.
"It's upsetting that tax dollars and police resources are being used to harm peaceful people and by enforcing a law that will not be in effect in the very near future," Jodie Emery, co-owner of Cannabis Culture, told VICE. Emery confirmed that police also visited a Canna Clinic in Toronto today.
"We will continue our activism and our mission to demonstrate what legalization looks like," Emery said. "Cannabis Culture has 20 years of history pushing for freedom."
Emery said the store will reopen as soon as possible, but as of right now their employees have been detained so they don't have staff.
Justin Trudeau's Liberal government has promised to legalize marijuana in Canada, a process that is expected to begin in spring 2017.
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