Toronto is now covering illegal weed dispensaries with giant cement blocks
Toronto bylaw enforcement officers appear to have a new weapon in their ongoing (and thus far futile) fight to eradicate any remaining illegal cannabis dispensaries within the city: Concrete blocks.
Photos surfaced on Reddit last week of late last week of a storefront at 102 St. Nicholas Street, not far from Yonge and Bloor, blocked from bottom to top by huge slabs of cement.
"Toronto police couldn't raid this illegal dispensary on Yonge and Bloor (due to a legal loophole) so they came by with big trucks and unloaded these blocks in front of it," wrote a Redditor called Kandoh on Friday with an image of the Yonge and Bloor store.
Another Reddit user, okthisyear, had just days earlier posted a photo of concrete blocks in front of a door believed to be that of another illegal dispensary on Dundas near Roncesvalles.
The crews who unloaded the blocks at Yonge and Bloor were not police, as suggested on Reddit, but City of Toronto bylaw officers who were recently given enhanced powers under the PC government's Ontario Cannabis Control Act.
"We did an initial enforcement action at this location several weeks ago. The operators chose to ignore that," said the city's Director of Municipal Licensing and Standards, Mark Sraga, to Global News on Friday.
Sraga said that even after city workers changed the store's locks, operators continued to break back in and sell cannabis without a licence.
Thanks to the aforementioned "legal loophole" — a clause in the Cannabis Control Act that gives officers and cops the ability to close a facility unless it is also a residence — city workers couldn't just weld the doors and windows shut like they have in the past with CAFE.
So, they got creative.
Working with the board of the condo building in which the alleged dispensary is located, city crews were able to set up a flat bed truck with its own crane and unload at least a dozen massive concrete blocks right in front of its entrance.
"This has proven to be a bit more of a substantial tactic," said Sraga to CBC, noting that about 12 illegal dispensaries remain operational within city limits.
Solid as the move may prove to be, however, it's only a temporary fix. Many experts still argue that the only way to stamp out black market cannabis in Ontario is to expand the number of licenses issued to way more than the current 25.
"The AGCO and province should reopen the retail license application, take a merit-based approach when evaluating and awarding licenses," reads a report issued by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce this spring.
"The lack of private retail will only encourage the illegal market and reduce potential government revenue through the sale of legal cannabis."
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