Police raid illegal dispensary in London Ontario

Published Jan 25, 2019 04:28 p.m. ET

 An illegal dispensary, one of at least a couple in London, was raided by police. This raid is the first since the legalization of weed happened on October 17th, 2018.

The cannabis found in the shop was bagged as evidence. This did not stop a continual stream of customers from coming to the locked doors of the London Relief Center dispensary. This dispensary has been raided twice since it opened in 2017. One wonders what happens to the $50.000 in cannabis and approximately $15,000 in cold hard cash, that was seized one week after it was first opened.

London dispensary robbed

This illegal dispensary did not require that its customers have a medical marijuana license. London Relief sold cannabis products to anyone who met the legal age to purchase or consume cannabis in Canada. This dispensary has also had the misfortune of being the target of an armed robbery and break-in. The legal way to purchase marijuana in Canada is through the online government-run store OCS.

The province stated that so-called black-market dispensaries would be able to apply for retail licenses if they closed their door on the date that cannabis became legal throughout Canada. Let's remember an interesting fact, none of the London dispensaries complied with this order. Those shops continued to operate uninterrupted, that is until now.

Robbery in London Ontario

London has been spared raids on dispensaries since legalization came into effect. This raid on dispensaries in London is the first since September 20, 2017.

The store proudly displayed an apology note on a sandwich board outside the shop, informing customers that unfortunate circumstances have closed them today, but they will be open tomorrow. Accompanying this note was a smiley face.

The idea behind this raid, apart from the fact that the shops, for now, are illegal, is to target illegal businesses from making huge amounts of money and selling unregulated marijuana to people. The government believes this could and does pose a health risk to the consumer.

One could ask where this confiscated weed is being stored. Facilities that are required to hold the confiscated cannabis will have to provide 24/7 security.  This expense is taken on by you and me, the taxpayers who pay for the storage of the weed. Whether the warehouse is secured by police or a private company, it is an expense. There is also the ever-present threat of break and enters in these premises adding to the cost of confiscating the herb.

The idea that police services are logging extra hours is daunting. The preparation to proceed to court is even more costly.

These dispensaries often have “volunteers” working there. The owners are allusive and sometimes unable to be found. The volunteer is often left holding the bag, so to speak.  Leaving the volunteer to face charges of trafficking. Some dispensaries open the next day after being raided and some even the same day, with new product and new faces dispensing the herb.

This starts the whole game over. The investigators must proceed with a new case. They will have to start making their observations and collecting of evidence all over again — another drain on the police services budget.

So why doesn’t the government fast-track the licensing process for these dispensaries and solve the problem of legality for these shops? Seems a simple answer to me.

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