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Toronto police raid and shut down five marijuana dispensaries, vow to close more

Last Updated Oct 19, 2018 at 10:20 pm EST

People stand outside an illegal marijuana dispensary at 17 Chruch Street in Toronto on Friday Oct. 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Doug Ives

TORONTO – Toronto police have shut down five pot shops in a co-ordinated raid Friday afternoon.

Police spokesman Gary Long says the drug squad charged and released eight people under the new provincial cannabis legislation.

It is only legal to buy marijuana in Ontario from the province’s online website and police Chief Mark Saunders vowed to shut down illegal dispensaries after marijuana became legal on Wednesday.

Ontario will be issuing licenses to operate dispensaries, but that system won’t be in place until April 1, 2019.

On Wednesday, police raided two dispensaries on Vancouver Island and on Thursday police raided a pot shop in St. John’s.

Long says police will continue their enforcement of illegal pot shops.

“Those who choose to stay open are doing so at their own risk,” he said.

Long said police worked with the city to use new powers in the provincial legislation to shut down the dispensaries.

The city’s executive director of municipal licensing and standards told The Canadian Press last week it would use those powers to help close the dispensaries that remained open after legalization.

The province offered existing dispensary owners an amnesty — they would still be able to apply for the coveted provincial retail licenses if they closed down before marijuana became legal on Wednesday.