Canada marijuana sellers defiant despite police crackdown

Tue Jun 7, 2016 10:31pm EDT
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By Ethan Lou

TORONTO (Reuters) - Operators of Toronto's unlicensed marijuana stores said on Tuesday they would defy Canada's drug laws and continue their sales despite a police crackdown two weeks ago that targeted nearly half of the city's roughly 100 stores.

Representatives from industry associations and at least 35 medical marijuana stores met to discuss how to keep selling as Canada moves toward legalizing the drug's recreational use.

Medical marijuana is legal in Canada, though selling directly to the public is not. Currently, only a few federally approved producers are allowed to sell medical marijuana - and only through the mail.

Still, hundreds of shops have popped up across the country since the Liberals came to power last year on a pledge of recreational legalization.

The government said in April that it will introduce legalization laws in spring 2017.

Vancouver has also started cracking down on its marijuana stores, but those efforts were met by mostly indignant pot purveyors adamant on remaining open.

Critics say such outlets operate without oversight and quality control, and their prevalence in cities may expose minors to marijuana.

At Tuesday's meeting, which was held at a marijuana-smoking lounge and attended by about 50 people, operators whose stores were raided told the audience what to expect. A lawyer spoke about how retailers can best deal with police.   Continued...

A woman smokes a large joint before The Global Marijuana March in Toronto, in this file photo dated May 7, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch