Metro Morning

Jodie Emery's Toronto pot shop sells to recreational and medical users

Like marijuana dispensary whack-a-mole, a new pot shop opened up on Queen Street West just as Toronto police were raiding 43 other businesses last week. This one counts outspoken marijuana activist Jodie Emery as an investor.

'Why should I have to force someone to be sick or to pretend to be sick,' says Emery

Marijuana activist Jodie Emery is an investor in a new Toronto marijuana dispensary. (Catherine Rolfsen)

Like marijuana dispensary whack-a-mole, a new pot shop opened up on Queen Street West just as Toronto police were raiding 43 other businesses last week.

Outspoken marijuana advocate Jodie Emery is an investor in the new shop, called Cannabis Culture, which is actually a franchise. Emery, the wife of activist Marc Emery, also helps run Cannabis Culture magazine and says the stores are an extension of that brand.

The dispensary, unlike some, will sell both to healthy people and to those who use marijuana for medical purposes.

"Why discriminate?" Emery told CBC Radio's Metro Morning Tuesday. "When we have legalization coming for all Canadian adults, why should I have to force someone to be sick or to pretend to be sick?"

Emery said if the government is serious about legalizing weed, she wants her shops to be the model for how it's sold. Emery noted that marijuana has long been legal in Amsterdam, adding that there, "If you don't like pot, you don't have to go to those shops."

Following last week's raids, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders said most people operating dispensaries are doing it for monetary gain. Right now, he said, that's "unlawful." Emery doesn't see the problem when legalization is coming anyway.

"What's wrong with making money?" Emery asked host Matt Galloway. "These dispensaries are opening up because of basic supply and demand.

"If it's unjust to arrest Canadians in the future for pot then it's unjust to arrest them today."

'Consenting transactions between adults'

Emery admits she was worried on the evening of the shop's grand opening and said there are some ongoing concerns about police raiding the business – hence a decision to keep a limited amount of marijuana at the shop – but she believes she has the public's support. 

"I'm begging, begging Toronto police not to," Emery said when asked about a potential raid of her shop. "Stop ruining people's lives by enforcing a law that won't be a law in the near future."

Emery said it's far better to have businesses employing people and paying taxes rather than having people get their marijuana from potentially violent criminals. 

"It's not a bunch of cartel members opening up and forcing people to buy pot at the point of a gun," said Emery. 

"These are consenting transactions between adults and dispensaries are opening up because there is public support." 

In response to concerns raised by the community and police that many dispensaries were opening up near schools, Emery said that kids are already exposed to adult activities.

"Parents send their kids to corner stores to buy candy where cigarettes are sold," said Emery. "But we don't freak out about it. We use responsible parenting."

Emery went on to say she wants to see "responsible regulations" like those surrounding cigarettes or alcohol for marijuana, but the lack of them now won't stop her and others. 

"If the law is unjust, we are demonstrating it's unjust, that is the point of civil disobedience," said Emery. "If [the dispensaries] are criminal it's only because the law makes them criminal."

with files from Metro Morning

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