Toronto police raid marijuana stores in Canada crackdown

Thu May 26, 2016 3:58pm EDT
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By Ethan Lou

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto police have started raiding and shutting down some marijuana dispensaries in Canada's largest city, a spokesman said on Thursday, in the latest crackdown by local authorities as the federal government moves to legalize the drug.

The police spokesman said officers are executing search warrants and seizing products from stores they believe are selling to recreational users.

At least 45 of Toronto's 83 known unlicensed dispensaries were targeted, according to the municipal government.

Canadians are allowed to use medical marijuana with a prescription, but recreational use is illegal.

Even so, unlicensed dispensaries have multiplied in Toronto, Vancouver and other Canadian cities since the country's Liberal government came to power last year pledging to legalize recreational marijuana. Some of these stores have been accused of selling to people without proper prescriptions.

The government has said it will introduce a law in spring 2017 to fulfill its pledge, but in the meantime, former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, the government's point man on legalization, has emphasized the current laws remain in effect.

Toronto's move comes within a month of a similar operation by Vancouver, which handed out tickets to unlicensed medical marijuana dispensaries.

Vancouver's enforcement, however, did not involve police, who had said they would not crack down on dispensaries as long as they do not sell to minors and are not selling other illicit drugs.   Continued...

A marijuana plant is seen at Tweed Marijuana Inc in Smith's Falls, Ontario, Canada March 19, 2014.   REUTERS/Blair Gable