Hamilton police continue crackdown on illegal cannabis dispensaries

A provincial enforcement team, including members of the Hamilton Police Service, has shut down an illegal marijuana dispensary in the city’s east end.

Local media were invited to come along Friday morning as officers raided a business called Haze on King Street East at about 10 a.m.

Deputy police Chief Dan Kinsella says it’s the 11th such raid in Hamilton since cannabis was legalized but the first using new powers under the Ontario Cannabis Act that allow police to seize the property.

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Kinsella says police will change the locks, put an alarm on the premises and use other security techniques to ensure that it stays closed.

He adds that inviting the media to tag along is about sending a message.

“We’re committed to closing down illegal dispensaries, and it’s important to let the community know that we have been doing that work and we will continue to do that work,” Kinsella said.

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It’s believed that 34 illegal dispensaries are still operating in Hamilton.

Kinsella says getting to the point where a search warrant can be executed typically requires two officers to spend approximately two 10-hour days gathering evidence, making such cases a “resource issue.”

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Two men and two women, ranging in age from 24 to 38 face charges as a result of Friday morning’s raid, which comes on the same day the province is set to conduct a lottery selecting the winners of Ontario’s first 25 legal retail cannabis licences.

The accused are charged with possessing cannabis for the purpose of selling and will appear in court on February 27, 2019.

City council’s debate about allowing legal stores to operate in Hamilton is scheduled to resume on Monday.

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