Police in Toronto are mystified. There’s been a string of robberies at the city’s illegal-yet-above-ground marijuana dispensaries, and oftentimes, dispensary owners and employees are loath to call police.
Could it have anything to do with police confiscating marijuana once called to a dispensary–and, the few times dispensary staff do call police following a robbery, twice arresting the dispensary owners?
It’s easy to see how a “stop snitching” culture might have caught on around Canada’s marijuana dispensaries. Despite liberal drug laws, selling marijuana at a storefront is still illegal north of the border, and will be until Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government gets around to legalizing recreational cannabis as promised. Until he does, stores like the ones in Canada selling weed over the counter are technically illegal.
But what’s more illegal: running a weed shop or robbing it at gunpoint? The latter is certainly more violent and would seem to actually lead to victims of crime, rather than the “victimless crime” a fair-and-square cannabis transaction would seem to be.
Toronto cops do have a situation on their hands. At least 17 dispensaries have been robbed since June, CP24 reported. There could be many more: Of these, eight are known to cops only because customers or witnesses called the cops, a phenomenon police Supt. Bryce Evans finds “disturbing.”
At a press conference on Monday, Toronto’s top cop blasted dispensary owners’ refusal to cooperate with police despite their customers and employees being “victimized” and “traumatized.”
Later, cops inadvertently revealed the heart of the matter. It just so happens that the spate of unreported robberies started in June, just a month or so after a police crackdown on rogue dispensaries began. Could one perhaps be related to the other?
Let’s see what the folks in uniform have to say about any such connection.
Police said that robberies at dispensaries would be “fully investigated” by officers if reported to police but added that any illegal substances found during the course of the investigation would be seized.
When asked why dispensaries would report the incidents at the risk being charged or losing product, Evans accused reporters of making dispensary owners out to be “victims.”
“It is illegal,” Evans said.
This, then, is the choice dispensary operators are faced with: Get robbed by crooks and stay quiet, hoping it doesn’t happen again, or get robbed twice–once by crooks and then again by police, and end up with no product and some charges to face in court in the bargain.
The madness has continued unabated. On Jan. 4, police responding to a dispensary robbery found employees “hesitant to cooperate,” according to City News. When your victims don’t trust you, perhaps it’s time to change your approach. If police don’t catch on and keep dangling the threat of seizures or criminal charges over the heads of the people who, for some reason, aren’t leaping to get their help, this won’t end anytime soon.
TELL US, would you call the police if you owned a dispensary in Toronto?