Toronto media has watched in wonder over last two weeks as bylaw officers and police used concrete blocks to bar the entrance to all locations of the CAFE chain of unlicensed dispensaries.
During the first cement-blockings of CAFE locations two weeks ago, an evicted tenant got into a shoving match with police as they seized his belongings. That tenant, Jeffrey Brodie, is now suing them, saying law-abiding tenants shouldn’t be evicted or have their possessions seized without due process.
Last week, after bylaw officers and police installed concrete blocks in front of CAFE’s Harbord St. location, employees simply removed the blocks with a crane and decorated the remainder. During the raid on CAFE’s Fort York Blvd. location, authorities were confronted by a man apparently trapped inside by the blocks—though police claimed he had snuck in after the shop had been raided. It was around that point that the concrete blocks got their own Twitter account.
By Friday, there were more than 70 charges lodged against CAFE’s pair of owners—one has a long criminal record for fraud, forgery, and counterfeiting, and the other is a Lamborghini-driving former wrestling champion who owns two racehorses named Sativa and Indica.
Most expected we had seen CAFE’s endgame, until Saturday, when CAFE simply opened again—selling to a large crowd of customers on the sidewalk outside of the concrete-blocked dispensary. Police arrived, 18 arrests were made, and that might have been the end of things.
Except CAFE kept “reopening.” And on Monday, Toronto Police Service opened a new front in the dispensary war—they announced they had arrested one of CAFE’s customers, a 37-year-old Toronto man, for “Possession of Illicit Cannabis” (Section 8(1)(b) of the Cannabis Act makes it a crime to knowingly possess illicit cannabis).
In communications with Leafly, TPS Media Relations Officer Allyson Douglas-Cook explained the man was not charged with purchasing, and was charged only with possession of one gram of cannabis.
Douglas-Cook would not say whether the TPS is arresting “simple” purchasers of cannabis buying from unlicensed dispensaries, nor would she say whether this will become a hallmark of TPS dispensary raids henceforth.
“The focus is to discourage the illegal sale of Cannabis,” Douglas-Cook said. “This has recently been motivated by complaints from members of the community in the areas that this activity has been occurring in large volume. Going forward, the Toronto Police Service will be looking at each situation on a case by case basis and determining what the best course of action will be.”