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Illicit Toronto Dispensary Refuses to Be Stonewalled

July 19, 2019
illegal dispensary cafe toronto
William Norman/Leafly
This week, Toronto bylaw enforcement officials closed the four locations associated with outlaw dispensary chain CAFE and placed large 4,000-pound concrete blocks in front of the store.
Toronto Municipal Licensing and Standards officials closed the premises on an interim under the authority of the provincial Cannabis Control Act. The closure order is in place until provincial cannabis charges are handled by the courts, which could take months or years.

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The dispensary chain was formed in 2016, initially as one location in downtown Toronto’s CityPlace neighbourhood and has since grown to become a thorn in the side of law enforcement officials as it has defied raids, arrests, federal charges, and provincial charges to remain open at their four Toronto locations.

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On Wednesday, a man had to be rescued after he was trapped inside one of the locations by the concrete blocks.

Selwyn Pieters, a lawyer affiliated with the chain, tweeted that it was a “trapped tenant,” however, City officials say they had cleared the building of all people and allege the person had gone back inside after the blocks were put in place.

By Thursday night, the blocks at the Harbord Street location were removed by heavy machinery, ostensibly by the proprietors of the dispensary. The store once again opened its doors to customers that evening, despite the possibility of patrons receiving up to $100,000 in fines and one year in jail for entering a dispensary that has been closed under provincial laws.

City of Toronto spokesperson Lyne Kyle said that the City considers the movement of the blocks a theft and that Toronto police are investigating it as such.

The same night, people could be seen sitting in chairs outside the Bloor Street location, and while the concrete blocks appeared to remain in place, the lighting was turned on inside the dispensary and the metallic garage door enclosing the concrete blocks had been opened.

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CTV News reported that customers were being chauffeured in black SUVs from blocked locations to the Harbord Street location.

And on Friday, CBC News reported that the proprietors of the operation were two Toronto men named Jon Galvano and Wesley Webber.

Galvano, a bulky man who can be seen in his Instagram photos living a life of luxury, is in ways the polar opposite of Weber, who otherwise shies away from the public life.

That might be because Weber is most known for his Canadian counterfeiting enterprise that culminated in a sting operation and five year prison sentence. More recently, he pled guilty to securities offences in January 2019.

It’s unclear what roles the two men play in the CAFE operation exactly.

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The saga is far from over: Mark Sraga, head of investigations for City of Toronto Licensing and Standards, told City News he has additional tricks up his sleeve.

It’s unclear what that means for patrons of the dispensary chain—so far there is no indication that shop customers have ever been charged criminally or with provincial offences, though it is possible that could change.

Friday afternoon, Pieters posted a nighttime video appearing to show a male lying on his stomach in front of one of the locations as police handcuff him and then walk him inside. Pieters claims that the video was taken Thursday night and that no charges were laid on the individual.

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Harrison Jordan

Harrison Jordan is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto and enjoys reading and writing about the regulatory affairs of cannabis in Canada and around the world.

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