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The Cannabis Culture Raids: Here’s What We Know at Day’s End

March 9, 2017
The dust is settling after police raids on Marc and Jodie Emery’s dispensaries across Canada today in Toronto, Vancouver and Hamilton. The operation, dubbed “Project Gator” by the Toronto police, resulted in the arrest of five people and the execution of 11 search warrants in the three cities. According to lawyer Kirk Tousaw, those arrested included Marc Emery, Jodie Emery, Erin Goodwin, Chris Goodwin, and Britney Anne Guerra.

Project Gator: 11 warrants, three cities, five arrests. All related to Cannabis Culture.

The Emerys, who were arrested last night as they were boarding a flight to Barcelona for Spain’s annual Spannabis conference, appeared briefly this morning in Toronto’s Old City Hall Courthouse. Amid boisterous support from activists, Jodie flashed a peace sign and blew a kiss to Marc mouthing “I love you.” Marc and Jody Emery are expected to have their bail hearing on Friday morning.

Meanwhile, seven Cannabis Culture locations across Canada were being raided (five in Toronto, one in Hamilton and one in Vancouver). Jodie and Marc Emery were charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offense; trafficking; possession; and possession of proceeds of a crime.


Canada’s Green Rush: An Interview with Jodie Emery, the ‘Pot Princess of Vancouver’

Rex Mekkem, a logistics manager at Cannabis Culture Hamilton, said authorities had seized employees’ mobile phones. “Metro Toronto is raiding the Hamilton store. They’ve took every one of staff’s phones,” Mekkem said in a Facebook video, apparently shot using a borrowed device. “They’re just taking everybody’s names and everybody’s phones and kicking us loose, because it has to do with Toronto, they said.”

Meanwhile, the Toronto Police Service reiterated their stand that dispensaries are not legal even if national legalization were to come in the next few months.

Speaking to local media, Toronto Police Services Communications spokesperson Mark Pugash insisted that the agency is merely enforcing the law. Pugash said that there are health risks to cannabis sold in dispensaries, due to the lack of proper quality control and the potential presence of insecticides and mold. Pugash also pointed to a recent spate of dispensary robberies, some at gunpoint, and indicated that the police believe there are a number of “outlaw enterprises” operating in the industry. It was unclear whether Pugash meant the police considered the Emerys an “outlaw enterprise,” or whether the mere operation of a dispensary was considered as such.


Police Raid Cannabis Culture Stores Across Canada

Toronto’s municipal licensing and standards office told the Toronto Star that the city had also filed an injunction in Superior Court related to seven locations of a different company, Canna Clinic.

“It’s just a big waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Tania Cyalume, Toronto activist

“The City of Toronto has consistently pursued enforcement actions against marijuana stores in the city. These operations are illegal under federal law and also operate in contravention of the City’s zoning by-laws,” said a statement from licensing head Tracey Cook.

“The new court application commenced by the city with respect to a chain of marijuana stores operating in multiple locations across the city continues the city’s efforts to enforce its existing bylaws.”

In Ottawa, Health Minister Jane Philpott was asked about the raids this afternoon. She would only confirm that the Liberal Government remains on track to deliver its expected cannabis legalization proposal by June 21, 2017.

Reaction from the activist community was swift. “It’s just a big waste of taxpayer dollars,” said local Toronto activist Tania Cyalume. “The timing of these raids fits Trudeau and the Liberal party’s agenda to only allow the LP model. While it doesn’t look good for the future of dispensaries, I have no doubt they will reopen.”

Canada’s cannabist activists were abuzz on social media, with Vancouver-based lawyer Kirk Tousaw providing regular updates.



Much of the commentary focused on the perception that closing storefront dispensaries like Cannabis Culture would play into the hands of underground black-market drug dealers. Some noted those dealers are brazenly pedaling much more dangerous substances, including the opioid fentanyl.




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Richard Sharp

Richard is a longtime journalist and entrepreneur based in Toronto.

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  • This means you create TWO in place of every ONE that was impacted. Keep doing this. For every one raided, create TWO. More people need to start growing at home. Make cannabis unenforceable. Start today, and teach two people to grow. Have them teach two people to grow. Keep teaching more people to grow and always encourage them to teach more people to grow.

  • Tim Murphy

    Good job, Canada! Way to protect the people from the big bad pot heads! I’m sure the streets of Canada will be so much safer without these marijuana smokers violently destroying the country. Canada are taking their country back…all the way to 1930!

  • psi2u2

    Here’s an idea; let’s make police the arbiters of public health. Doesn’t it make lots of sense of spend public money throwing people in jail, harassing and intimidating and, yes — *terrorizing* them — to enforce a ban on mold? it sounds like the perfect quality control mechanism for an industry.

    These moronic, poorly educated cops don’t realize and don’t seem to care what damage they do to their own reputations in this futile attempt to stamp out a plant. Those calling these shots and defending them in press belong in the lowest level of Dante’s hell.

  • lovingc

    I thought Canada was a civilized country. This is stupidity squared. They can say what ever cock and bull story they want to but it doesn’t make it right or safe.
    The LEOs should be going after the death dealers that sell opiates.

  • rwscid

    At last it will now be safe for me to visit Canada, without fear of being attacked in the street by marijuana crazed cancer patients.

    • Ahsoka23

      Please tell me you are being sarcastic.

      • riverLYNX


    • Peggy Palmer

      70yr old Ladies are really the ones you have to look out for. Marijuana will give us the strength to do bad things don’t you know.

    • Robert Gerus

      You sir are a fking idiot, stay the fk away if that how you think. what an AH

      • Skankherder

        Smoke a lil less than you did before the anger prob Rob? If you didn’t get his humor then you might wanna get you blood pressure checked too. Hypertension is a silent killer bro

      • John

        The OP was obvioauly being sarcastic. Sounds like you need to take a hit and chill.

  • ME

    Hey there Toronto Police- How about stopping the flow of cocaine in from New York?

  • Ahsoka23

    This is ridiculous and a complete waste of taxpayers money. People need to read up on some history. This is just Prohibition 2.0. They tried to ban alcohol and people still consumed it. As long as there is a demand for something there will always be a supply.

    Spend money on catching real criminals like those “wolves of wall street” .

  • Robert Gerus

    Yep!!!! Cops are at it again from sponging donuts to busting folks that work in CBD shops and a prime minster selfie boy Justin Trudeau and the Mayor of Toronto they all claim that CBD pot is still illeagle in Canada, so they have the cops that don’t make the law just enforce it. They are busting everybody’s balls Thank Trudeau for all this. So the Cannabis Culture Clubs will be raided everytime it opens, but this time the cops didn’t arrest anybody just a warning, what a fking joke. But the Emery’s were arrested for being the owner’s, another crock of shit.

  • Robert Gerus

    I will alway’s buy my marijuana from a dealer, because I get good prices, I don’t have to wait in line or wait for it to come in the mail or delivered I go the my dealer’s place and pick it up I get to sample it free of charge and if I like it I buy it. Plus it’s the kind with THC, Mind you I would love to try CBD pot better then oxycocet that seem’s to bung me up, can’t crap. But at your prices for a gram is a ripoff I pay anywhere 5 to 7 bucks a gram and that’s the way it should stay, not the 14 a gm, I hear some of you are charging highway robbery.

  • Skankherder

    Woohoo. Street dealers and local bars rejoice!!!!! Pathetic. Get ready for the drug war machine to creep it’s way back into America as well.

  • riverLYNX

    I am very surprised and quite disappointed to hear that Canada is raiding cannabis dispensaries, obviously a misstep in the wrong direction.

    I live in Astoria, Oregon — a historical coastal fishing community, a town of just 10,000 people. We now have six (6) active cannabis dispensaries in town, these serve both the medical and recreational cannabis user, all cannabis products are tested for molds and pesticides, they make certain no young, underage people are admitted.

    I have held a medical cannabis card in Oregon for about 16 years, and will continue renewing it though Oregon has legalized recreational cannabis. We do not pay the cannabis sales tax for one benefit. Also with this new Trumpster AG — who knows what evil lives in the depths of malicious the demon Sessions? Recreational cannabis is at greater risk with Sessions; even medical is in danger.

    Typically, law-enforcement loves to harass and arrest cannabis users, it’s much safer than actually going after real criminals. It must be noted I have seen security videotapes of law-enforcement raiding cannabis dispensaries where the law enforcement officers are caught on video gleefully stealing both cash and cannabis products — beyond civil forfeiture. This is an escalation above the usual arrests and harassment of individual cannabis users.

    We must completely end (STOP) the cannabis prohibition worldwide — Canada, wake up, allow dispensaries, you can inspect all merchandise for molds and pesticides. Take the sales and market control of cannabis away from the violent Cartels and Black Market bring it aboveboard where it can be taxed and regulated as is being done in the states that have legalized it.

    Legalized cannabis Globally.

  • Bert Trim

    Well, I can see that Justin’s “Coked- up Corporate Criminal Elite buddies” in Toronto will be quite happy with this. Better to have the industry run by the Coke Mob in Toronto. I knew that this little prick would show his true colors. He used us.

  • Robert Gerus

    With a face like that, only a mother could love. what do you think.

  • ChrisHondaelement