Toronto

Teen among 18 people arrested for selling cannabis outside of closed dispensaries

Toronto police charged 18 people over the weekend for selling cannabis outside of two locations of CAFE — a chain of illegal dispensaries that has continued operating despite the city's repeated attempts to shut it down. 

Sidewalk cannabis sales held outside of locations of CAFE, say police

City workers placed huge slabs of concrete in front of CAFE's flagship location last week in an attempt to prevent further access to the site. A little more than a day later, a man was charged with unlawful sale of cannabis in front of the building. (CBC)

Toronto police say they charged 18 people, including a 16-year-old boy, for selling cannabis outside of two locations of CAFE — a chain of illegal dispensaries that has continued operating despite the city's repeated attempts to shut it down.

Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu said Monday that nine people were charged under the Cannabis Act and nine others under the Cannabis Control Act.

Sidhu said the 16-year-old boy was observed purchasing cannabis from an adult outside CAFE's Fort York Boulevard location on Sunday evening. He then allegedly walked to the back of a line of people and redistributed the cannabis he had purchased in exchange for cash.

The teenager and a 24-year-old man were jointly charged with:

  • Knowingly distribute illicit cannabis. 
  • Sell cannabis to an adult. 
  • Possession of proceeds obtained by crime.

Both were released with conditions and will appear in court at a later date, police said.

Arrests carried out over 2 days

Police made the 18 arrests over a two-day period on Saturday and Sunday in front of CAFE's Fort York and Harbord Street locations. 

Police say that at least some of those arrested are employees of CAFE, and that they seized iPads with customer information, debit machines, cannabis products and walkie-talkie radios during the arrests. 

The city's Municipal Licensing and Standards department has tried multiple times to close CAFE's various locations in Toronto. After the latest attempts, makeshift sales counters began selling cannabis on sidewalks nearby the brick and mortar stores. 

"When it happens inside it falls under the city bylaws, but once it happens outside, as it did, then it becomes a Toronto police issue," said Toronto police Cont. Alyson Douglas-Cook. 

Entryways blocked with concrete

According to the City of Toronto, more than 70 provincial charges have previously been laid against CAFE's staff and landlords. 

Police officers also blocked the entryways to all four CAFE locations with giant concrete slabs last week.

Soon after that, the company announced "new locations opening now in anticipation of this inconvenience."

Last week, CBC Toronto published an investigation into CAFE's ownership structure and how the chain has managed to keep its doors open where many illegal Toronto dispensaries have shuttered. 

CAFE, whose longer name is Cannabis and Fine Edibles, describes itself as a "a cannabis brand on a mission to do good, help people feel good, create informed consumers, and give back to our community while keeping it safe." 

CBC Toronto has reached out to CAFE for comment.