Dispensaries: 2017 Was A Good Fight – Project Claudia, Project Gator, Project Lincoln and The Future

Dispensaries put up a good fight in 2016 and then again in 2017. Finally, The Liberal Party gives hope for legalization to be set for 2018. Does that mean non-government dispensaries have an expiry date?

After a long and tough year for dispensaries, the cannabis community got some hope after the House of Commons passed Bill C-45 by a landslide. The bill will head to Senate where it may face huge debate due to the Conservative Government.

Although hope seems high for patients, weed entrepreneurs and doctors, it may be a downhill battle for dispensaries. The LCBO announced this year the creation of CCBO and it active plan to reopen government-owned dispensaries by 2018 and have all others shut down. The cannabis community is outraged to see such a money grab after how many faced criminal charges in the last two years.

Project Claudia

Dispensary riads collect over 150 k
Chief of Police Mark Saunders makes press release during Project Claudia on collected evidence.

via  CP24

Toronto Police swept nearly half of the cities dispensaries that were selling marijuana illegally during Project Claudia. This came in light of nearly 78 dispensaries inspected by city bylaw weeks before. Around 90 people face charges of trafficking, proceeds of crime and money laundering.

Raids prompted by complaints from residents and by police were due to the growing concern of health of patients purchasing. The massive drug sweep collected nearly 269 kilograms of dried cannabis. Police also found 80 kilograms of concentrates, hash and capsules. Many dispensaries will reopen even after a huge loss in product, cash and employees. The police seized roughly $160,000 in cash during the raid.

The majority of employees do not face conviction. Representation for an employee was given by most dispensaries during Project Claudia and led to a peace bond agreement in court. This peace bond stated employee agrees to no longer work for the company. Also stated the person has no access to marijuana or to a dispensary. Others were lucky to ride it out and may have charges withdrawn by The Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

Project Gator

Energy's face charges and bail for break the legalization on cannabis culture stores.
Strict bail conditions imposed on Cannabis Culture’s Marc Emery. This is evidence that the justice system has no interest in the fact public opinion.

via Now Toronto

Toronto police targetted the Cannabis Culture Chains during Project Gator. Cannabis Culture Owners Jodie and Marc Emery and Associates arrested and released on bail. Majority of employees faced similar charges as Project Claudia including trafficking, procession and laundering. The Toronto Police and Crown frustrated with the laws being broken, while Activists see promises being broken and want answers.

Legally, the charges laid by police, which include trafficking of marijuana and possession of the proceeds of crime, are questionable. Given the federal government’s plan to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, it seems unnecessary. (Legislation expected this spring.)

Project Lincoln

Police gather outside Canna Clinic Parkdale after a raid. Do dispensaries have hope for staying open?
Police gather outside during a raid on a Canna Clinic marijuana dispensary on Queen St. W. in Toronto on June 22, 2017. Canna Clinic has had as many as seven storefronts operating in Toronto.

via The Star

Project Lincoln was a personal raid on the Canna Clinic dispensaries. Seven dispensaries and six residences in Toronto and six undisclosed locations in the Vancouver and Denman Island areas. This resulted in the arrest of 80 workers, seizure of 250 kilograms of cannabis product and $350,000 in cash. Then Toronto police re-raided the Canna Clinic dispensaries following. Eight employees arrested and seized a kilogram of cannabis product and nearly $5,000 in cash. Canna Clinic’s owners and management face charges and bail. Much like Jody and Marc Emery, these people faced court and now face some disagreeable charges for marijuana.

The Future of Dispensaries

Dispensaries set to be closed for 2018 re opening by the CCBO in 2019
The first wave of 40 marijuana stores will open in 2018. That number will be rising to 80 stores by July 2019.

via CBC News

So, what does the future hold? The time for personally owned dispensaries seems to be over. The government announced it’s idea for planned CCBO owned stores and the closure of currently illegal owned locations.   Prince Edward Island already is showing a movement. Newfoundland stated they will serve weed in private dispensaries. Alberta and Manitoba have also both opted for a private dispensary model while Quebec and New Brunswick are all going with a government monopoly. Vancouver has been in the movement for years and Ontario is working towards an option that will suit best for everyone.

However, the dispensary industry has time to grow, and impending legalization will definitely play its role. There is a lot of excitement and suspense regarding the future of cannabis.