Toronto police say they have charged 15 people with drug offences after a raid at a marijuana dispensary in Kensington Market.
Police said 14 Division officers carried out a search warrant at the Canna Clinic dispensary at 44 Kensington Ave., near Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West, at about 6:30 p.m. on Monday.
All 15 accused were charged with the same offences: three counts of possession of a schedule II substance for the purpose of trafficking; three counts of possession of a schedule II substance; and possession of proceeds of property obtained by crime over.
Three of the accused are women, 12 are men. The suspects are from Toronto, Richmond Hill, Mississauga and Guelph, Ont.
During the raid, police allege that they seized: 168.7 kilograms of marijuana, 14.5 kilograms of marijuana oil and 4.9 kilograms of shatter. Officers also seized $14,410 in Canadian bills.
Police say they will act if there are complaints
"Ever since dispensaries arrived in large numbers in Toronto, our position has been clear: we will enforce the law," Mark Pugash, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said Monday.
Pugash said when police divisions have evidence they need, complaints and public safety concerns, they will take action.
"We don't have the resources to go after every dispensary. Where we have the evidence and the resources, we will execute warrants, and that's what we did yesterday."
He said the arrests and charges mark the third time that police have executed search warrants at 44 Kensington Ave.
The dispensary was one of seven Canna Clinics targeted in Toronto on June 22, when police carried out what they called Project Lincoln, an operation that involved the RCMP, the Vancouver Police Department and Toronto Municipal Licensing and Standards officers.
On that day, police raided seven dispensaries and six residences in the Toronto area and six locations in Vancouver. Eighty Canna Clinic employees were arrested, charged, and released on the scene.
Pugash noted that the federal government plans to legalize marijuana by July 1, 2018, but up until legalization actually happens, the police will continue to enforce the Criminal Code.
"The law is absolutely clear. There is no grey area," he said. "There are people making massive amounts of money, endangering the public and breaking the law. That seems to me to be a very compelling argument for police to enforce the law while it remains as it is."
Jodie Emery, a cannabis activist due in Toronto court on Oct. 3 to face charges and an owner of Cannabis Culture, said she is concerned that police raids will increase in frequency ahead of marijuana legalization as governments prepare to enter the business.
"We are seeing the raids occurring and we worry we are going to see more happening," she said in a phone interview from Ottawa.
Emery said police are arresting "peaceful, non-violent operators" and she sees the raids as a waste of police resources. She has been charged with conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, drug trafficking and possession. No trial date has been set in her case.
"Prohibition is a cash cow for law enforcement," she said.
As for the suspects arrested on Monday, they are due to appear in Old City Hall court on Monday.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-1400, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, or text TOR and a message to CRIMES (274637).