The crackdown on cannabis storefronts that began last month continued today in Toronto as police reportedly raided at least two businesses, including Canna Clinic in Kensington Market and Cannabis Culture’s Queen Street location.
“The police [came to the store], they were inside, they closed up the shop, and they’ve arrested people,” Cannabis Culture owner Jodie Emery told Leafly this afternoon. “As far as I know, no patients and no customers were arrested.”
Emery, an outspoken cannabis advocate, was in Vancouver, B.C., at the time of today’s raids. She and husband Marc Emery own and operate multiple Cannabis Culture locations across Canada. The company also operates a cannabis social club and a magazine widely known in Canadian cannabis circles.
Emery opened the Toronto storefront after the “Operation Claudia” raids began last month, with full knowledge that they would likely be raided. To protest both the raids and the lack of action on legalization by the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Emerys opened their Toronto storefront as an adult recreational shop, serving anyone 19 or older.
Details on the raid remain scant. Around 1:20 p.m. local time, the Cannabis Culture’s Twitter account announced the raid had begun:
Shortly afterward, Emery posted an update to her personal account:
Police Chief Mark Saunders took questions about the raids during a previously-scheduled press conference. (The media event was primarily intended to provide information about the arrest of four suspects in a shooting that injured a ten-year-old boy earlier this month.)
“This has nothing to do with medical marijuana and everything to do with making money,” Saunders said in response to questions about the raids. “It’s not about medical marijuana, it’s just about people making money.”
Although police are staying mum on what prompted the raid, Emery confirmed that Cannabis Culture received a letter from Toronto law enforcement the day before the raid.
“Yesterday the letter arrived, and, as such, the stock was reduced onsite. So hopefully there wasn’t a large amount there,” Emery told Leafly. She added with a sigh, “We’re just waiting on updates.”
As for speculation on her motivation for opening a cannabis shop, Emery was adamant about the decision to continue business as planned. “It’s the same old battle as usual. These dispensaries are opening up because of basic supply and demand. Stop ruining people’s lives by enforcing a law that won’t be a law in the near future.”
Ebony-Renee Baker, a VICE Canada editorial intern, was on the scene posting updates to Twitter: