Why was The Kindred Cafe busted?
The following is commentary made by an anonymous reader of blogTO, who has chosen to be identified as "Disappointed". His/her writing is in response to the raiding of The Kindred Cafe by police on Thursday evening, allegedly following complaints from the community, and appeared in the comments of yesterday's Morning Brew.
Key questions to ask here:
Is Marihuana illegal?
This question has not been answered consistently for a long time. However, as of July 13, 2007 the Ontario Provincial court deemed possession laws for cannabis unconstitutional. Therefore, was it illegal for the Kindred Cafe to allow people to smoke Marihuana that they brought to the premises? No.
Did the cafe promote responsible smoking of Marihuana?
From my experience the cafe enforced strict age limits (18+ or 19+), limited the amount of time a person could spend on the patio (thus limiting how stoned a patron could get) and served food and beverage that counteracted the effects of Marihuana smoke. The vapourizers located on the second floor of the premises allowed patrons to enjoy their marihuana without having to inhale carcinogens or burnt plant matter. Also, no tobacco smoke was allowed inside the smokers' tent, including blunt wraps. So you can be the judge of that.
Did the cafe pose a threat to the neighborhood?
It seemed like a pretty quiet place to me. No fighting. No alcohol. No crowds out front. No odor. No excessive noise. As ambiguous and forgettable as any downtown independent coffee house at first sight.
Did Kindred Cafe add anything positive to the neighborhood?
Yes. Foot traffic on a barren downtown street. It gave people a reason to go to Breadalbane Street. A street that would otherwise be relegated only to sad souls who hangout beside the YMCA at night. The foot traffic created by Kindred brought responsible citizens to the area and created a safe environment for all using the street. With no Kindred, there is little night traffic and thus there is no one watching the street in case anything goes wrong. Also the people who went to Kindred tended to visit local restaurants and bars thus helping the local economy. Lastly, with Kindred Cafe being a green bean fair trade coffee shop, they were helping contribute towards a fairer and more sustainable coffee industry and world economy. Even if only on a small scale.
Did the Kindred Cafe provide a use for people other than recreational smokers?
Yes. They provided discounted entrance rates to medical marihuana exemptees and allowed a safe environment for them to consume there medicine. I could not go there without meeting at least a few people who were battling serious illness (HIV or Cancer) or had other conditions (IBS, epilepsy) that marihuana helps mitigate the effects of. So, Kindred definitely played a serious role in the medical marihuana community in Toronto.
Is distributing Marihuana illegal?
Unless you are a registered compassion centre, yes.
Did Kindred Cafe distribute Marihuana?
NO. They told me and any other patron entering the smokers' area that it was strictly "bring your own". No dealing was tolerated on premises by customers or by staff and I saw the employees enforce this rule more than once.
Did the Kindred Cafe keep marihuana on premises?
Not that I saw. And because no dealing occurred there, it would serve no purpose if they did.
Did Kindred Cafe distribute "space cakes" or "space shakes" or any other food items containing cannabis?
Who's to say? Has anyone seen them prepare their food? Did anyone see without a shadow of a doubt marihuana placed into various foods and distributed to the customers? Did the products even work or were the patrons stoned from smoking? If the drinks were laced, was it with weed or simply Huelen or some other medicinal herb known to cause relaxation and sedation.
So that question remains unanswered for now.
Is selling marihuana edibles illegal?
This question has unclear answers as well. I hope I remember correctly; in the book Bud Inc. the author has a section dedicated to a woman in BC who sold cookies laced with marihuana for a sustained period of time. She was charged but later charges were dropped. However, recently (Sept 5, 2008) marihuana edibles maker "Tainted Inc" was charged with manufacturing marihuana edibles.
Marihuana edibles do offer a smoke-free way for users to ingest the active ingredients of the plant without having to inhale carcinogens or burnt organics and is therefore a healthy way to get a buzz on. However the legality of these edibles is still in question.
With all this said, did Kindred Cafe break the law?
Maybe. Depends on whether the "space cakes" were legit and whether those cakes are in fact illegal.
I am disappointed. I thought Canada was a progressive country that respected the rights of the individual. I do not see the crime here. I see people ingesting their medicine or coping mechanism in a safe and social environment and not affecting other people that did not want to be involved in the activity. It is sad. The Kindred was a social experiment that showed how the marihuana industry can be responsible, and can actually be an asset to a neighborhood - a place where medicating oneself was not a private act by an isolated individual in a cold environment but a community activity that fostered understanding and tolerance. It was a place were people from all spectrums could meet, talk and smile. It is sad.
There seems to be no shortage of liquor licenses for new bars that allow the consumption of a far more damaging substance. A simple historical bias allows for this. Police and policy makers simply cannot justify their stance on Marihuana or substance prohibition in general. Study after study after study has shown that the "war on drugs" does not work in any sense and that treating drug use as a health issue and not a criminal issue leads to lower drug use and populations.
The average citizen does not even understand why a certain drug is illegal. Again and again I am faced with the same cyclical answers:
"Why are drugs illegal?"
"Because drugs are bad."
"Why are drugs bad?"
"Because drugs are illegal."
Unfortunately, people cannot seem to escape this type of puritanical rhetoric and it still holds sway in our government as the raid on Kindred showed. Our country is not progressive: we spew out just as much greenhouse gases per capita as the US, Canada is in love with Wal-Mart and McDonalds, we rape our pristine nature in the name of oil companies and racism against First Nations Peoples is entrenched in our national identity. Now we are following the same "war on drugs" style enforcement that even the US government is admitting was a mistake.
I am disappointed indeed.
Join the conversation Load comments