cafe toronto

Petition to keep Toronto's most notorious illegal weed chain open gains steam

If you've been by any of the recently-raided CAFE weed stores in downtown Toronto, you may have noticed that they're still fronted by gigantic concrete blocks.

Police and city bylaw enforcement officers also seem to have chilled out lately after weeks of consistent crackdowns and repeated closure notices, suggesting that Toronto may finally have won its long-fought battle against the popular illegal dispensary chain.

And maybe it has, in some ways — but not entirely, and not for good.

CAFE is still selling its namesake cannabis and fine edibles, albeit not from within its physical stores.

Instead, the business is offering same-day delivery and even "store pick-up" for those who purchase products online.

This may explain why, despite not being able to enter their physical locations on Fort York Boulevard, Harbord Street or Bloor Street West, apparent employees and customers are still seen hanging out in front of CAFE's downtown locations almost every day.

Those big concrete bricks the city had installed are also serving a new, less bylaw-friendly purpose: Advertising.

The hashtag #OPENMARKET has been stenciled all over the new grey facades of at least three CAFE locations.

As one might surmise, based on CAFE's push for equal access and a fair licensing system in Ontario, the hashtag is linked to a petition calling for a more open market on their behalf.

"I cannot find reasonable dignified access to cannabis even though it has been deemed legal," reads the petition as it appears on Change.org. "CAFE has provided me safe access to cannabis for three years and my life is negatively impacted by it being removed from my community."

The petition is authored by a user called "Toronto Community of Affairs" and, since its inception three weeks ago, has racked up nearly 3,500 signatures. 

"Marijuana is legal. Why spend tax payers money trying to shut down a business that is in favor of the people? CAFE is for the people," wrote one signee. "The government is just trying to make money off of individuals who truly need their supply."

The petition, which has an ultimate goal of 5,000 signatures, is also being promoted on CAFE's own website.

"Support open market cannabis access," reads a featured banner on the company's homepage over a link to the Change.org campaign, which itself is rife with comments from users who blame the Ontario government for screwing up legalization.

"CAFE is a solid retail operation and the quality of government marijuana is poor comparatively," writes one signee. "More businesses should be able to sell their supply already."

"Treating cannabis like its illegal when it's not is absolutely ridiculous. CAFE has provided so much support and help to so many. There's no reason they shouldn't be open and able to operate," wrote another.

"Ashamed in how greedy our government is becoming."

Lead photo by

Lisa Power


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