By Liz Eiseman.
While Americans spent last Thursday preparing for Memorial Day, Canadians spent the past weekend in a haze of events. The Toronto Police Service conducted Project Claudia, a broad sweep of marijuana raids throughout the city. And according to The Toronto Sun, the entire project was unbeknownst to Mayor John Tory. He claimed, “I knew nothing about what the police were going to do and I can’t comment on what they did either.”
TPS couldn’t comment on what they did, either. Authorities wouldn’t release how many dispensaries were raided, people arrested, or the charges they faced. Luckily, Canadian activists were on scene nearly immediately. Armed with a familiar narrative supporting medical marijuana, protesters seemed unable to hear TPS’ concerns surrounding marijuana trafficking for uses other than medical. TPS also cited concerns about THC regulation, all in the name of public safety.
When asked, Tory reinforced the police’s “obligation” for law enforcement. Even activist Jodie Emery admitted that the Toronto dispensaries weren’t legal, but were “breaking the law in a way that demonstrates the law in unjust.” (For now, medical users in Toronto use a mail order service. I know, it doesn’t sound entirely legal, but Canadian laws are unclear, so this is how dispensaries and mail orders are able to operate). And the laws being broken by medical dispensaries? Zoning bylaws. Dispensary patients are now being pushed to the streets to obtain marijuana, but gosh, the zoning laws in Toronto have been righted!
Police Chief Mark Saunders likely hoped to celebrate the “victory” of Project Claudia on Friday’s news conference. However, Thestar.com reported that advocates attending were quick to slam the 43 unlicensed dispensaries caught, 90 criminal charges filed, and 270 kilograms of weed. That’s 595.248 POUNDS of weed for those not on the metric system. 595 lbs. Of weed makes the rest look like chump change, but for what it’s worth, TPS also confiscated $160,000 (cash), 127 kg of oils and spreads (280 lbs.), and 142 kg (313 lbs.) of edibles.
Luckily, it seems as though Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the hero Toronto needs and I suppose deserves. Even though he says marijuana “has never really done anything for me,” Canada is looking to legalize recreational marijuana in 2017. For now, Canadians, particularly those in Toronto, need good vibes. Afterall, Project Claudia was carried out on the same weekend as the Lift Cannabis Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Center.
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