Tag Archives: Toronto

Prominent cannabis advocate Dana Larsen called Mr Fantino’s decision to enter the market "shameful" and "unacceptable".

The cops and politicians joining Canada’s cannabis business

By Jessica Murphy BBC, Toronto   29 December 2017

Former police chief and Conservative cabinet minister Julian Fantino speaks at his company, Aleafia

As Canada moves towards legalising recreational cannabis, there’s a surprising group of entrepreneurs jumping into the market: cops and politicians.

In 2015, former Toronto police chief Julian Fantino was “completely opposed” to marijuana legalisation and supported mandatory jail time for minor cannabis offences.

Mr Fantino, who was also a Cabinet minister in the former Conservative government, criticised the now governing-Liberals’ plan to legalise the drug, saying it would make smoking marijuana “a normal, everyday activity for Canadians”.

In November, along with former RCMP deputy commissioner Raf Souccar, he opened Aleafia, a “health network” that helps patients access medical cannabis.

He also had a change of heart on legalisation, telling the Toronto Star newspaper he now supports it as long as it keeps pot away from children and criminals.

In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, he said his 2015 comments were made “in a different era”.

Mr Fantino said his turning point on medical marijuana came when he was minister of veterans affairs and met ex-soldiers who relied on it.

Marijuana activists who have fought against prohibition for decades – and sometimes faced subsequent criminal charges for their activities – were angry over Mr Fantino’s reversal on pot.

Prominent cannabis advocate Dana Larsen called Mr Fantino’s decision to enter the market “shameful” and “unacceptable”.

“I would not buy from those people,” he says, adding he would tell other marijuana users to do the same.

There is also concern the pot counterculture that flourished for decades will be elbowed out of a likely multi-billion dollar industry by a new corporate sector.

Mr Fantino is arguably among the more controversial entrepreneurs to join the “green rush”.

But a number of high-profile former police officers and politicians have jumped into the industry in recent years, including Mr Fantino’s Aleafia colleague and fellow ex-MP Gary Goodyear, former Ontario premier Ernie Eves and former deputy Toronto police chief Kim Derry.

Medical cannabis has been legal in Canada since 2001.

The industry got a boost in 2013 when federal government regulations shifted to allow licensed commercial producers to grow, package and distribute medicinal cannabis to patients.

Registered patients have also skyrocketed from 24,000 in June 2015 to more than 200,000 in June 2017.

Many of companies supplying that market have plans to expand into the recreational product when the product is legal next summer.

In December, the federal statistics agency estimated Canadians consumed an estimated C$5bn ($3.8bn; £2.9bn) to C$6.2bn worth of marijuana in 2015. Canadians spend about C$7bn a year on wine.

The government is pitching the legislation winding its way through Parliament as a way to keep pot out of the hands of minors and to undercut organised crime.

Derek Ogden spent more than 25 years with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including as head of the force’s drug squad.

He understands the frustration of activist watching the people they battled for decades now entering the industry.

“There’s absolutely no way Canada would be in this position right now as far as taking steps to legalise had it not been for the work that the activists did,” he says.

But Mr Ogden, who now runs National Access Cannabis, a consultancy that helps patients access medical marijuana, says it’s no surprise that ex-cops are in demand.

Licensed producers are hungry for people with security experience who can get clearances and who understand Canadian drug laws.

“One of the ideal groups of candidates to slide into those positions were former law enforcement personnel,” he says.

Mr Ogden himself got into the business around 2014, when Canadian and American producers hired him to consult on security protocols.

His nascent consulting company was “overwhelmed” by the demand.

Mr Ogden no longer believes that people who use medicinal cannabis are simply doing so “to avoid the legal implications” of using the drug recreationally.

He had an “aha moment” after meeting a respected physician who relied on cannabis during a bout with cancer. Mr Ogden now uses it himself for a chronic health issue.

He concedes changing his mind on its recreational use was “a tougher one”.

Former British Columbia municipal politician Barinder Rasode “grew up thinking [pot] was a gateway drug that ruined people’s lives”.

Now she’s president of the new National Institute for Cannabis Health and Education, which researches cannabis production and its use in Canada.

Marijuana activists have done “an amazing job” at highlighting problems with prohibition but with legalisation on the horizon, “having many voices at the table is really, really important”, she says.

“I don’t think the fact that somebody at some point had a different opinion about cannabis should exclude them,” she adds.

“I actually think their voices are extremely valuable.”

Marijuana is the most commonly used illegal drug in Canada. Almost 60% of drug offences in the country in 2016 were cannabis-related.

Mr Larsen says he doesn’t “want to put narcs in jail”. But he believes police and politicians who supported prohibition and are now entering the cannabis business should admit they were wrong.

“I want people who were victimised by cannabis prohibition – who went to jail, who had their families torn apart, who lost their children, who couldn’t access medical cannabis – I want their voices to be heard,” he said.

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Prince of Pot Marc Emery, wife in Toronto court on drug charges

 

Couple who have marijuana shops across Canada charged with drug trafficking, conspiracy, possession

CBC News Posted: Mar 10, 2017 8:07 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 10, 2017 12:52 PM ET

Marc Emery and his wife Jodie Emery were charged on Thursday with drug trafficking, conspiracy and possession after they were arrested at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

Jodie and Marc Emery, who is known as the Prince of Pot, are in court at Toronto’s Old City Hall today to face drug trafficking, conspiracy and possession charges.

The Vancouver couple were arrested on Wednesday evening at Pearson International Airport while trying to make their way to a marijuana festival in Europe.

Both the Crown and defence have requested time to review possible bail conditions.The court is discussing whether the couple will be granted bail. The justice of the peace presiding over the hearing fell ill and was taken to hospital.

On Thursday, law enforcement officers in three Canadian cities raided various locations of Cannabis Culture, a chain of marijuana shops owned by the Emerys. Jack Lloyd, a lawyer, is representing the Emerys in Toronto.

 

A police news release said the raids were part of Project Gator, “a Toronto Police Service project targeting marijuana dispensaries.”

Three others were also charged, including the owners of the Toronto location of Cannabis Culture.

Marc Emery, 59, has been charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
  • Three counts of trafficking schedule II.
  • Five counts of possession for the purpose schedule II.
  • Five counts of possession proceeds of crime.
  • Fail-to-comply recognizance.

Jodie Emery, 32, has been charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.
  • Trafficking schedule II.
  • Possession for the purpose schedule II.
  • Two counts of possession proceeds of crime.

Cannabis Culture raid

A police officer is seen outside the Cannabis Culture location on Church Street in Toronto during a raid on the store. (Emma Kimmerly/CBC)

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Marc and Jodie Emery arrested in Toronto amid marijuana dispensary raids across Canada

Police raid a Cannabis Culture marijuana dispensary in Vancouver, B.C. on March 9, 2017.

 

By Adam Miller Online Journalist  Global News

Marc and Jodie Emery, Canada’s self-proclaimed “Prince and Princess of Pot,” have been arrested in Toronto ahead of coordinated raids at their Cannabis Culture marijuana dispensaries across the country.

The couple’s Vancouver-based lawyer, Kirk Tousaw, said the marijuana activists were arrested at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport Wednesday night and were being held in custody while awaiting bail hearings Thursday.

The Emerys own 19 Cannabis Culture marijuana dispensaries across Canada and Toronto police said Thursday they had executed 11 raids in connection with an investigation targeting the dispensaries — dubbed Project Gator.

Five Cannabis Culture locations in Toronto, one in Hamilton and one in Vancouver were raided and police said a total of five people had been arrested across the country in connection with the investigation.

Vancouver police confirmed to Global News they had raided one Cannabis Culture location in the city in conjunction with the Toronto police investigation. The Ottawa Cannabis Culture dispensary raid was reportedly not connected with the investigation.

Toronto police said they are still determining what charges will be laid, but said search warrants were also executed on two Toronto residences, one in Vancouver and one in Stoney Creek, Ont.

“Make no mistake, this is not about public safety. This is not about protecting the public,” Tousaw said in a statement.

“There is no harm being done by the production and sale of cannabis, for medical or recreational purposes, in storefront dispensaries.”

Marijuana legalization activists Amy Brown and Tracey Curley told Global News outside a Toronto courthouse Thursday they believed the Cannabis Culture locations were being “simultaneously raided.”

“From what we understand, is that various owners of Cannabis Culture franchises are now being arrested,” Curley said.

“Britney Guerra, the owner of Cannabis Culture Hamilton, was just recently arrested at her house in Hamilton.”

Curley said Cannabis Culture franchise owners Chris and Erin Goodwin were also “confronted by police” at the Toronto courthouse while they were waiting to provide bail money for the Emerys.

“They were arrested on site for possession for the purpose of trafficking,” she said. “[We are] a little shocked that it’s happening so fast and so quickly and so many people being affected right now.”

Brown said the arrests of franchise owners were “heartbreaking” but would not affect the operation of the dispensaries going forward.

“The cannabis industry is not going to change. It’s a small bump in the cannabis industry,” she said. “I’m assuming Cannabis Cultures will be back open in the next day or so.”

The Emerys were reportedly travelling to Barcelona, Spain to attend cannabis expo Spannabis, according to a Facebook post by Marc Emery.

Jodie Emery previously said she intended to open her latest location in Ottawa, just steps from the Parliament Buildings.

The 32-year-old recently appeared as a guest on AM980’s The Pulse with Devon Peacock after London Police raided five dispensaries in the city last Thursday.

The raids carried out by London Police took place two days after Bill Blair, former Toronto police chief and current parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, came to London to visit with police leadership and city officials to discuss a regulatory framework for legalizing marijuana in Canada.

In December, 10 people were arrested by police in Montreal after raids on six newly opened Cannabis Culture dispensaries.

In May 2016, Toronto police raided dozens of marijuana dispensaries in the city, seized hundreds of kilograms of marijuana and laid more than 250 charges under an investigation dubbed Project Claudia.

Toronto police said at the time the raids were due to concerns over the “rapid increase of opening of illegal dispensaries” and the “lack of quality control” that could affect public health and safety.

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