Dozens in court to face marijuana dispensary bylaw infraction charges

By News Staff

Dozens of sales clerks, landlords and marijuana dispensary owners made their first court appearances at Old City Hall in Toronto on Wednesday following a series of raids last month.

Police raided 43 dispensaries in an investigation dubbed Project Claudia. Ninety people were arrested and close to 200 charges were laid in connection with the raids, including 71 criminal charges.

Police seized 270 kilograms of dry cannabis as well as considerable amounts of concentrates and THC-infused edibles.

Individuals were in court on Wednesday to face bylaw infraction charges and not the more serious criminal charges like drug trafficking.

Lawyer Paul Voinea told CityNews the bylaw infractions were being arbitrarily handed out.

The charges “seem to have been served to anyone that was on the premises, whether or not they were an owner,” he told in an email.

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Toronto police say health concerns behind raid of dozens of pot shops, arrests

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Police raid Toronto pot dispensaries for non-medical marijuana traffickers

Many have criticized the raids as being heavy-handed, especially with legalization looming, but police Chief Mark Saunders said the arrests came as a result of numerous community complaints, as well as health concerns regarding unregulated products.

“There is a danger if you don’t know where the source is coming from,” Saunders said following the raids. “These locations can’t tell you where it’s coming from, nor what the content is, unless they’re guessing.”

One medical marijuana patient responded by filing a human rights complaint against the City of Toronto, demanding $1 million because the dispensaries closest to him were shut down during the raids.

Raymond Hathaway, a paralegal who uses a cannabis extract to treat an inoperable tumour in his spine, told VICE the raids made it impossible for him to access the medicine he needs to treat pain and swelling caused by the tumour.

He’s now suing the city for infringing on his rights.

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