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After Months of Struggling, Toronto has Closed Over 85% of Illicit Pot Shops

There's more good news for Ontario's legal weed business, as provincial officials report a huge decrease in the number of illicit dispensaries.

Police in the city are now investigating only nine unlicensed cannabis stores, said Toronto Director of Investigation Services with Municipal Licensing and Standards Mike Sraga.

"This compares to 91 illegal cannabis storefronts when the Cannabis Control Act first came into effect on October 17, 2018," Sraga told Toronto Sun.

The announcement comes just days after new Statistics Canada data revealed legal cannabis sales have doubled in Ontario since brick-and-mortar retailers began opening in April. It's good news for a province which was previously one of the country's biggest under-performers.

Despite the recent success police have had in closing unlicensed pot shops, these kinds of operations continue to proliferate. Permanently closing down illicit stores has proven challenging and there still aren't enough legal retailers to wholly displace the black market, explained Sraga.

"The demand for cannabis continues to be high and markets are often operated and supplied by the criminal element who feel the risks are worth the financial benefits," Sraga said.

In recent days, Toronto officials have taken to some drastic measures in attempts to kill the city's black market. Earlier this month reports began to surface that the city had begun using cement blocks to bar entry to known illicit dispensaries. At the time, Sraga called it a more "substantial tactic" than what the city had previously been doing.

And while officials didn't reveal exactly why there has been such a sharp reduction in illicit cannabis stores in Toronto, we can assume that it has a lot to do with the fact that Canada's largest city finally has a small handful of licensed retailers. As more legitimate means of purchasing cannabis comes to Toronto we should expect the number of illegal sellers to continue to decrease.

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