Police in Toronto shut down a busy street in Canada’s largest city on Thursday afternoon after a false report of a hostage situation at a marijuana dispensary.
There were no employees inside the Toronto 365 Dispensary when police arrived at the building minutes after receiving a phone call at about 1 pm about a person with a gun entering the store on King Street, Police Constable Allyson Douglas-Cook told VICE News at the scene.
Police are now investigating to see if the false report was a mistake or a deliberate hoax, Douglas-Cook said.
The false report comes amid an ongoing police crackdown on marijuana dispensaries across the city in the lead-up to legalization, and a spike in robberies.
Douglas-Cook declined to comment on whether police would now shut down the illegal dispensary following the commotion and said their priority is to ensure public safety regardless of the nature of the business.
Jodie Emery, a well known Canadian marijuana activist, told VICE News she used to run the dispensary under her Cannabis Culture brand before a court ordered it to be shut down in March. The storefront later reopened as Toronto 365 Dispensary under different management.
“We don’t know who’s there now,” Emery told VICE News. “This [apparent hostage situation] is another example of how government prohibition & criminalization causes harm – making cannabis so valuable and attractive to thieves who are the real criminals using force & violence.”
By about 4:30 pm, the street was re-opened as heavily armed police officers with tactical gear left the scene.