cafe toronto open

Illegal cannabis store now selling weed on street outside shuttered Toronto stores

Toronto's most notorious chain of illegal cannabis dispensaries is growing ever more brazen in its outright defiance of police and bylaw enforcement officers by taking its product to the streets — and police are clapping back in kind.

A total of nine people were arrested and charged under the Cannabis Control Act this weekend for the unlawful sale of a controlled substance outside two recently-shuttered CAFE locations in downtown Toronto.

Four people between the ages of 28 and 31 were arrested outside the CAFE store at 66 Fort York Blvd. in City Place on Sunday.

Police say that they were responding to "a number of complaints" about the popular store when officers "observed two women and two men engaging in the illegal sale of cannabis on the sidewalk outside of the address."

The apparent CAFE employees were all released and will appear in court at a later date. Police did, however, seize some iPads, point of sale machines, customer information and "a quantity of marijuana" during the outdoor raid.

One 22-year-old man was also arrested on Saturday morning for "selling narcotics outside" of CAFE's Fort York location.

Another four people between the ages of 22 and 27 were arrested on the same day at CAFE's 105 Harbord Street location, which was similarly shut down and blocked off by city officials last week.

Again, police say they were responding to complaints about the illegal dispensary when they observed one woman and three men selling weed on the sidewalk.

Officers were also seen issuing tickets outside the Harbord Street CAFE location on Sunday, though there have been no reports of patrons being arrested or charged.

This back and forth, cat and mouse game between law enforcement authorities and the people behind CAFE — which owns four of Toronto's last remaining illicit brick-and-mortar pot shops — has captured the city's attention in recent weeks.

Many are confused about how these stores continue operating despite multiple raids resulting in closure notices (not to mention the city's own installation of huge cement blocks outside their entrances).

CAFE has been using what experts call a "legal loophole" in the Cannabis Control Act to prevent the city from closing at least two of its locations since April.

The act states that officers can only shut down a facility if someone is charged with a cannabis offence related to said facility — so long as it is not a residence.

Just last week, the store was able to reopen its location on Fort York after someone once again claimed to be living inside.

Toronto Police and bylaw enforcement officers may not be able to change the provincially-regulated act on their own, but they do seem to be fed up enough with CAFE's dealings that they're now going after individual employees.

Whether that's enough for the chain's owners to stop trying to thwart the law remains to be seen.

Lead photo by

Daniel Puiatti

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