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Why Are Marijuana Dispensaries Still Open in Toronto Despite Police Raids?

All eyes around the world are turned towards Canada and its upcoming legalization of marijuana. Marijuana enthusiasts and advocates like to say that Canada is a grey area when it comes to buying, selling and consuming marijuana. Yet on the other hand, law enforcement officials are very clear about it – everything is black and white. Until the law changes and marijuana becomes legal, it is illegal! So, why are dispensaries all over Canada still selling marijuana?

Police Raids in the Past Year

In 2016 marijuana dispensaries were raided throughout  the year and more than 400 dispensary owners were arrested. As the situation stands now, nothing seems like it will change this year or at least until 2018, when the Liberals say marijuana will be fully legalized.

Just a few weeks ago police received 11 search warrants and the green light to search every marijuana dispensary in four major cities across Canada. Toronto police searched 4 weed shops, arresting 9 people and charging them with drug-related offenses.


Criminal Charges

When a raid happens, customers are usually set free immediately, but dispensary owners are placed under arrest and put in jail for a few hours. Some dispensaries end up being shut down down after being raided, but some remain open, undeterred by the raid or the smaller number of customers. So, why are there still dispensaries operating in major cities, especially in Toronto?

Although there is no official record of the real number, according to some estimations, about 60 Toronto dispensaries are still open.

Grey, Black or White?

Though there is no “grey area” where government law is concerned, the situation seems to be different from the perspective of consumers and advocates on the ground. Marijuana activists say that occasional and selective police raids on certain dispensaries, while others are operating undisturbed, is causing mass confusion. According to citizens, marijuana laws need to be much clearer if the police are going to continue to raid dispensaries as they have in the past year or so.

On the other hand, most of the charges laid will still be upheld under the legislative system even when marijuana becomes officially legal. And this is the main argument for activists- why are people being arrested now if they will never be fully charged after legalization in the near future? Is it a waste of time and resources arresting them now and then pardoning them afterwards?

So, some marijuana dispensaries still remain open hoping they will not get raided until the big day comes, hopefully soon. The Prime Minister Justin Trudeau estimated new marijuana laws should be ready by the beginning of this summer. However, he pointed out that until the legislation has been passed, the current law remains applicable.

What Can We Expect Until the Full Legislation?

As it turns out, it is most likely that the legalization process will not be completed by July the 1st, 2018. In the meantime, advocates point out, Canadians are confused. The investigation and raids of dispensaries have been handed over to local police divisions, which carry out actions based on the complaints of citizens and for public safety concerns, police officials say. And until this time next year, activists will continue to pressure officials for a more clearly defined legal framework.