Windsor police chief promises zero-tolerance on marijuana dispensaries

Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick is promising to continue a zero-tolerance approach to unlicensed marijuana dispensaries in the city.

Police bust store front allegedly selling marijuana illegally

Windsor police Chief Al Frederick said a police act hearing for Const. Kent Rice will determine whether the officer used excessive force in a 2012 arrest. (CBC)

Windsor Police Chief Al Frederick promised a zero-tolerance policy on unlicensed marijuana dispensaries, even with a federal government pledging to legalize marijuana in the next year.

Tuesday, police busted Burnies Compassion Club on Wyandotte Street West, seizing 69 grams of marijuana, scales and packaging materials.   

Police allege a 41-year-old Windsor man was illegally selling marijuana from behind the counter. He has been charged with trafficking offences.

Frederick told CBC News the law only allows producers licensed by Health Canada that mail their product to consumers to sell medical marijuana, even though some claim pot dispensaries may operate in a legal grey area.

"The law is very clear. People are not allowed to sell narcotics in any manner in any type of storefront, basement or apartment," Frederick said. "You just can't do it."

Windsor police say marijuana was being sold illegally from this building on Wyandotte Street. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

He said there has been confusion among the public about these types of dispensaries. 

"There's been some misinformation ... that somehow these people are operating in a grey area — there's no grey area," Frederick said.

He said even if simple possession becomes legal, he doesn't see there being any changes to the law allowing private citizens to sell pot. 

Dispensaries growing in Toronto

Frederick said he believes there aren't any other dispensaries operating in Windsor, but they're becoming common in cities like Vancouver and Toronto.

The growing number of pot shops in Toronto even prompted Toronto Mayor John Tory to float the idea of licensing them in an effort to bring them under control.

Late last month, Toronto police raided several stores accused of selling marijuana without a licence. 

In Windsor, officials with the licensing department say they've seen a few calls from people looking to open pot shops with the city's blessing.

The city held off on setting a licensing policy until it has clear direction from the federal and provincial governments on what role municipalities play in licensing pot marijuana dispensaries. 

Until those regulations on licensed dispensaries come through, Frederick says police will continue to aggressively target trafficking.

"It's just like we don't allow anyone to sell alcohol, we don't allow anyone to sell cigarettes, we won't allow anyone to sell marijuana," he said. "It's the same thing, it's trafficking and it's against the law."