Toronto Councillor Lays Blame For Dispensary Raids On Trudeau’s Government

A Toronto city councillor isn't blaming the police or cannabis dispensary owners for the raid on the megacity's illegal marijuana storefronts on May 26. Joe Cressy - who represents Ward 20 (Trinity-Spadina) - says the fault lies with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government for leaving Canadian cities in "legislative limbo" regarding dispensaries.

"The federal government has let down cities right across this country," Cressy - who also chairs the city's Drug Strategy Implementation Panel - told CBC Radio's Metro Morning. "Cities are struggling. You cannot arrest your way to a solution."

But that's what happened last week when Toronto police raided 43 marijuana dispensaries, arresting 90 people and issuing over 250 charges for trafficking and profiting from an illegal substance.

Even though the federal government plans to legalize recreational marijuana use as early as next spring, Trudeau says that Canada's current marijuana laws will remain in effect until then. Which means that selling cannabis at a storefront - even one designed to serve only medical marijuana patients - is illegal. Right now, patients can only legally purchase cannabis through Health Canada's mail-order system.

However, Cressy wants Trudeau to budge from that stance by decriminalizing cannabis right away and giving cities guidance on how to deal with dispensaries.

"The police are enforcing a failed federal law," Cressy said. "That law needs to change. It's not the responsibility of the police to decide whether or not to enforce law. It's the role of the federal government to change that law. It's failed. It hasn't deterred people from using pot."

banner image: Flickr / UN Women

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It costs an average of $4,000 for police to bring someone up on cannabis changes - but it could run the defendant as much as $20,000 to fight the case. It's no secret that a lot of taxpayer money is wasted each year on enforcing unjust marijuana laws. By some estimates, as much as $3.6 billion is spent every year arresting some 820,000 Americans on cannabis-related charges.

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