Toronto closes illegal dispensaries by concrete blocking the doors
Cannabis is legal in Canada (and in many states in the US), but while that does solve a lot of problems, it doesn’t solve all of them. Illegal, unlicensed dispensaries are still an issue — taxes on cannabis have been set somewhat high in places, and that encourages a grey or black market to rise up to try to circumvent the requirements that legalization brings. In Toronto, the issue is apparently so bad that even after being shut down, one illegal dispensary continued to try to stay open, to the point where the owners broke back into a building that they’d been evicted from, even after the locks were changed to keep them out.
And so it looks like Toronto authorities have come up with quite a solution: They’ve placed cement blocks in front of the dispensary doors. That’s a bold move, Cotton — the blocks are pretty unsightly, and it can’t have been easy or cheap to lift them in there that way. That said, of course, it’s a safe bet that no one is getting back in those doors for a while.
Of course, this isn’t really a fix for the issue. While it might deter these particular dealers, the bigger problem is that legalization needs to be implemented in a way that keeps illegal dispensaries from wanting to run at all. Yes, legal cannabis will always cost slightly more (just because taxing and licensing the drug isn’t free), but overtaxing the drug and putting up lots of hoops to jump through for licensing causes the same sort of problems that legalization was supposed to stop. The goal of legalization is to keep the police from having to fight cannabis dealers, and if the cops in Toronto are going to these lengths to try and shut down illegal dispensaries, maybe the solution of legalization wasn’t implemented in the correct way just yet.
Then again, there are always growing pains, so maybe this is just an (admittedly kooky) part of figuring out where the line needs to be drawn on cannabis. Hopefully the legislation and rules can be tweaked in such a way that instead of going to these lengths to run an illegal store (and to try to prevent illegal stores), we can find a compromise and move on from cannabis sales to more pressing and important social issues.