Even though the Canadian authorities promised to deal with illegal dispensaries operating in major cities, many of them are still serving customers.
A long time ago, the federal government promised to shut down all illegal cannabis stores, as a part of the effort to combat the black market.
Ever since the sales of cannabis got legalized the provincial governments started giving out sales licenses. That is—every provincial government except Ontario—which is weird.
Ontario decided to slowly unfold its recreational cannabis stores so that the demand for cannabis wouldn’t overcome the supply. They are doing this by giving out 25 licenses at a time via a lottery system.
It seems to me that the government in Ontario doesn’t want to be blamed for a massive shortage similar to the one that happened right after October 17th.
Illegal stores still operating in Toronto
The provincial government in Toronto plans to give out 25 retail licenses to potential store owners and those owners will have up until April 2019 to open stores—otherwise, they’ll have to pay fines.
However, dozens of illegal stores are still working in Toronto as we speak, and they’ve been doing so for a long time before legalization.
So, what gives? The City staff is currently investigating 16 illegal storefronts which have been operating without a license. Officials say that it’s a “complex process” to shut these stores down.
City Council member Jim Karygiannis said the city is in a “tough position” thanks to the change in approach to legalization between the prior Liberal and current PC provincial governments.
“There’s not clarity out there, and we need to provide clarity to the people operating the stores, to the people looking to get the medicinal as well as recreational cannabis,” he said.
Having these illegal stores open is not to the government’s liking, however, it seems that the customers are loving them.
Some of the illegal pot stores in Toronto have been operating for years and they have loyal customers that have been buying their weed for months, if not years.
Users don’t want these stores closed because they say that the cannabis, prices, and the shopping experience is much better than what the government is offering through Ontario Cannabis Store.
Possible jail time for Vancouver’s illegal retailers
Even though the second legal weed store opened its doors in Vancouver last week, illegal retailers are still in the majority.
City officials have said that the BC Supreme Court ordered illegal cannabis stores to cease operations after the city filed 53 injunctions against them.
According to Kathryn Holm, the chief licensing inspector of Vancouver, it is still unclear how many of those shops are still open.
“Our goal is always voluntary compliance with any bylaw enforcement,” Holm said.”We certainly are not taking our foot off the gas. With respect to enforcement, we’ve continued to escalate and take the steps that we can.”
The city of Vancouver issued another 3 licenses for retail cannabis stores which will be operated by the Evergreen Cannabis Society and City Cannabis Co.
Holm said that, just like with Ontario, it is unclear when the illegal stores will be forced to close their doors.