Weeds and Gifts. Photo: Via Google Maps.
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Grant temporary licences instead, especially during CUPW strike

The Ottawa Police raided four illicit cannabis shops on Nov. 6 and 16, resulting in a combined 30 charges this month. Other dispensaries, who opted to remain open past the Oct. 17 deadline, are now operating illegally, could be subject to further raids, and will not be eligible for a licence once retail locations are legalized in April 2019.

Although Ottawa Police haven’t released the names of the establishments, one location that was raided in the 1000-block of Merivale Road can be identified as The Hemp Company. This raid was conducted even though a representative for the store spoke to the Ottawa Citizen in late October, making a full public appeal for permission, offering total compliance, and asking for a temporary licence. They had reopened their doors due to customer demand, in light of the Ontario government’s inability to get weed delivered on time.

According to the Citizen, many of the stores that have been raided over the past two years went on to reopen, and most of the employees have been given discharges by the courts. Not only is this a complete waste of time and money, considering most of the employees get discharged anyway, but making these stores now ineligible for a legal licence hurts the OCS in the long run, as trusted establishments with core bases will now no longer generate tax revenue for the government.

I get it, operating a pot shop is currently illegal, but raiding them so close to legalization seems like a slap in the face, especially when they publicly said they would collaborate with the government. Many people have chosen to not purchase legal pot until they’re able to walk into a brick-and-mortar store, see the product, and not have to wait 3-5 business days for delivery. Through raiding these stores, you’re making the product inaccessible for customers, who will just find alternative, less safe, methods.

The Ontario government should be granting temporary licences to these establishments (with possible high taxes) to keep them running while the appropriate framework is developed. This kind of action by the Ottawa police is killing the industry before it even gets off the ground, and the government is missing out on time and money by continuing to treat weed in such an excessively cautious way.

Although the Canada Post back-to-work bill was passed in a special parliament session on Nov. 24, there is still a pile-up of backlog that needs to be delivered. Not to mention the fact that a London woman recently found mould in her OCS order. Considering the circumstances, it makes more sense logistically to license these brick-and-mortar stores, at least temporarily until Canada Post works through the backlog and OCS gets back on track.