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End of the Line for Cannabis Culture in Canada
Vancouver’s stalwart chain Cannabis Culture announced it would be closing three of its Vancouver stores following a BC Supreme Court ruling ordering the shuttering of unlicensed dispensaries. Though the decision was unrelated, the announcement occurred at the same time as journalist Deidre Olsen was accusing Cannabis Culture founder (and self-appointed) “Prince of Pot” Marc Emery of grooming her for sex when she was 17 and he was 50. Another journalist responded to the allegation by reporting Emery had sexually harassed her as well.
Many—MANY—Are Called, 25 Are Signed
Ontario’s recreational-cannabis retail lottery opened on Monday and the response was monstrous. According to lawyer Trina Fraser, the number of respondents vying for one of the 25 available license-approval positions may have been as high as 35,000, though was likely at least 9,000. Applicants crashed the Ontario AGCO website and forced the provincial agency to push back the entry period for an extra hour. Winners—announced Friday—will be required to hit the ground running, and fast. First they need to deliver $6,000 licensing fees and a $50,000 line of credit. Then, if they fail to open April 1 they will be fined $12,500 per week. David Phillips, who headed the cannabis file under the former Ontario Liberal government, said the window was so tight he doubted any retailers would be able to open in time for April Fool’s Day.
On-Reserve Dispensary Raids Near Sudbury
In the Wahnapitae First Nation, an hour north of Sudbury, the community’s Anishinabek Police along with the Ontario Provincial Police raided two dispensaries, seizing $110,000 worth of flower, edibles, and concentrates, charging six. On-reserve raids are complicated, particularly when they involve provincial police, who are frequently unwelcome in First Nations territories (whose relationship is with the federal government).
The presence of the Anishinabek Police means the raid was approved by the Nation’s Band Council. However, that doesn’t guarantee it was done with the support of the community. In 2017, Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory’s police force, supported by the OPP, raided dispensaries in that community and set off a firestorm of controversy among residents who did not want community police enforcing provincial law. Since that time, Tyendinaga police have said they will respond to the First Nation’s own legislative policies on cannabis rather than Ontario’s, and the community has grown into one of Canada’s dispensary hotspots, with as many as one dispensary for every eight residents.