Adult recreational marijuana usage may now be legal across Canada, but that doesn’t mean anyone can operate a dispensary at any location, with previously open dispensaries facing major challenges to operate legally.
That’s a point that was driven home this weekend when the Toronto Police Service shut down half a dozen stores that haven’t complied with the rules set down by the Cannabis Act.
While carrying and growing marijuana are now legal, the specific procedures for opening a storefront or selling online vary widely between provinces and cities, with differing regulations in effect depending on location.
At this point, Ontario residents only have one single location to legally purchase recreational cannabis products — the government-operated Ontario Cannabis Store.
Six local dispensaries were shut down on Friday through Sunday, with a total of 13 people charged and then released on Part III Provincial Offenses Act summons. The Organized Crime Enforcement— Toronto Drug Squad issued this statement in a press release:
“The Toronto Police Service will continue enforcement and would like to remind those operating illegal dispensaries that if they choose to stay open, they do so at their own risk.”
The locations targeted by the Toronto Drug Squad include the CAFE Cannabis And Fine Edibles location at 66 Fort York Boulevard, the Allevi8 shop at 250 Church Street, and the Bud Station at 1506 Eglinton Avenue West.
All of the targeted locations were issued closure orders by the City of Toronto’s Municipal Licensing and Standards, effectively preventing them from selling to customers.
Marijuana storefronts that were operational before the passage of the Cannabis Act were informed they would have to shut down by Oct. 17 to continue doing business after legalization went into effect.
The end result of that requirement, combined with the varying methods for becoming licensed and operating legally, is that most dispensaries operating before the Cannabis Act went into effect are now in violation of several sections of the law.
Besides the issue of meeting licensing standards and regulations that vary by province, the Cannabis Act also requires many dispensaries to change packaging so that products aren’t celebrity-endorsed and don’t appeal to children.