Why Marijuana Laws in Toronto Are Confusing ?
In the past few years, there has been much confusion in Toronto and throughout Ontario in regards to medical marijuana and how those who have been granted a medical marijuana card are able to obtain the controlled substance. According to current laws, medical marijuana users are to obtain various forms of the drug by mail-order, not from actual dispensaries.
Further complicating matters are visitors to Toronto might assume that marijuana is legalized by the number of marijuana dispensaries popping up all around town. However, it is against the law to possess and sell the drug from physical retail storefronts. The police have raided dispensaries throughout the GTA on a regular basis to enforce the law.
Even though the police are merely upholding the current laws, they are quickly discovering that their efforts to shut down the dispensaries is being met with heavy resistance. Some stores reopen immediately following a raid, while others reopen a day or two later. Some even relocate to a new store front and move their store around on a regular basis, too.
In the meantime, the federal government is under pressure to revise current laws. Aside from changing the laws regarding medical marijuana dispensaries, the government has said it would be legalizing marijuana with specific restrictions and regulations for recreational use, too. At the city level, the Licensing and Standards Committee in Toronto has declined to take any initial steps at adopting or developing a policy regarding medical marijuana dispensaries.
Rather, the city is waiting to see what occurs at the federal level, first. The government had given the federal taskforce until the end of June of this year to have put together details of how marijuana is to be regulated and restricted for recreational use, which is no small feat, as marijuana has not been legalized for recreational use anywhere within Canada.
Currently, not only do the owners and employees of the marijuana dispensaries risk facing criminal drug charges, but also any person, whether they have a medical marijuana card and was purchasing it for medical purposes, or not, and was buying marijuana for recreational use.
From the police raids, dispensary owners and employees have been charged with possession with intent of drug trafficking offenses, as well as possession of property obtained through crime offenses. Many people, who have purchased marijuana from these shops have been charged with basic drug possession offences. In addition, customers of the dispensaries could also face possession charges in cases where they are on membership lists that support actual evidence of purchases.
While everyone anxious awaits changes to Canada’s drug laws to legalize marijuana, they should not assume they will be immune to drug offences, as police agencies and law enforcement officers are bound to uphold current laws.
If you have been charged with a drug offence as a dispensary owner or employee, or as a customer, you need representation from me, experienced criminal and drug defence lawyer, Jeff Hershberg. Call my office today at 416-428-7360 to arrange a consultation appointment and find out your potential defences to the charges.