Toronto pot shop CAFÉ faces criticism over racism

Published Jul 7, 2020 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Ildo Frazao

CAFÉ is a company that stands by these exact principles: child safety, education and harm reduction. The mission of CAFÉ is to inform the public accurately and to better the community for many generations to come. The company lives by a strong belief in strengthening the community, building healthier communities and giving back to communities. So why are there rumors of the exact opposite thing occurring at the Toronto pot shop? The word racism has caused some criticism at the local store.

Black Lives Matter

Is it possible that one of the most popular unlicensed pot shops in Toronto, is threatening staff with termination for expressing their thoughts and support for the Black Lives Matter movement? The co-owner of the pot shop may seem to have racist views to some, and he declares that his statement means as just as much.

All Lives Matter is the co-owners statement and the term used when attempting to downplay the disproportionate and deadly effects of police brutality within the black community. It needs to be stated that this accusation has not been proven, however proof or not, some people have begun to boycott this pot shop in response to the online charge of racist comments that people were referring to.

Suspicious behaviour

The response to a customer who contacted CAFÉ through e-mail asking the pot shop to deny these disgusting accusations is troublesome, to say the least. In response, the company did not outright deny any of the allegations they were confronted with but accused the customer of "keyboarding." The company did respond to emails by extending its hand to customers who have concerns around the pot shops' undocumented racist opinions.

The company spokesperson is adamant that they do not know where these misguided rumours came from. The pot shop has many employees who are of colour; in fact, about 70% of their staff are POC. The spokesperson continued to state that some of the staff attended the Black Life Matters movement, but refused to admit to anything beyond that.

Not guilty

The official statement released from CAFÉ outlined the diversity of the team. It continued to acknowledge that the company did encourage and provide time off for those staff members who wanted to participate in anti-Black racism protests in Toronto, which implies that the company supported their decision.

Regrets

The pot shop is transparent in its views that perhaps they did not act as quickly or effectively as they should have in handling these racist issues. The company also acknowledges the failure in not proactively supporting the freedoms and rights of all, and especially for the Black community.

Initiatives

Several new initiatives have been bought forward at this time. Interestingly the timing of staff education corresponds with the online racist comments, as the company failed to acknowledge what ultimately happened. Some of the initiatives include:

  • Racial equality staff training
  • Donations of $10,00 to organizations like Black Legal Action Centre, Black Lives Matter Canada, The Bail Project were implemented.

Final thoughts

CAFÉ staff is on hand to answer any questions concerning any racist ideology of the pot shop. COVID-19 may deter someone from coming into the pot shop and speaking directly with the staff about racist concerns.  However, safe distancing practice is mandatory in CAFÉ, and the most reliable health measures are implemented to keep staff and customers safe while conducting business.

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