Medical Marijuana Dispensary Crackdown in Toronto

Written on Behalf of Affleck & Barrison LLP

Over several weeks in May and June of 2016, the Toronto Police force executed a series of raids on medical marijuana dispensaries across the city. According to police, search warrants were obtained for specific locations identified as trafficking marijuana outside of the medical regulations exemption. Dozens of people have been arrested, hundreds of thousands of dollars of marijuana and hashish were seized and numerous drug-related charges were laid by police.

There were over 100 dispensaries in Toronto, and back in May, Mayor John Tory recently called for police to shut some of them down as they pose potential health risks for individuals.

Although recreational use of marijuana remains illegal in Canada, unlicensed dispensaries have sprung up in Toronto, Vancouver and other cities across Canada since the Liberals won the federal election last year. Owners, employees and patrons of the dispensaries expressed disbelief and frustration following the raids and arrests, particularly since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to legalize marijuana across the country. Despite their proliferation however, medical marijuana dispensaries are not permitted in Toronto under the present law.

Last week, the Toronto municipal licensing and standards committee was expected to review medical marijuana regulations and the proximity of dispensaries to schools. However, the city has now decided to hold off on having that discussion until after the federal government revises own regulations next year.

The federal government allows patients access to medical marijuana but only from licensed producers via mail order. Marijuana advocates argue that the system is flawed, and courts have deemed the system unconstitutional and too restrictive. The federal government was given an August 24, 2016 deadline to rewrite marijuana legislation. The Liberal government has also promised to legalize recreational use of the drug, with legislation expected next year.

If you have been charged with marijuana or other drug-related offences and would like to speak with an experienced criminal defence lawyer about your rights, please contact Affleck & Barrison online or at 905-404-1947.