Winnipeg – A day after dozens of pot dispensaries in Toronto were raided by police and by-law officers, one Winnipeg marijuana advocate called the operation a waste of time.
“It’s a big waste of time for our police to be ordered by city councils or mayors to take these things as a police investigation with criminal charges,” said Bill VanderGraaf who is a former Winnipeg Police officer and now sits on the Board of Directors for Vapes on Main.
“It is ridiculous, it is a waste of taxpayer money and it is a waste of our police time.”
The operation, dubbed Project Claudia, saw over 40 marijuana dispensaries in the city raided that led to 180 charges against 90 people.
Toronto Police say it was ‘genuine’ health concerns and community complaints that prompted the operation. Police Chief Mark Saunders told reporters the number of marijuana dispensaries have doubled in Toronto since March and so have the number of complaints.
But VanderGraaf tells 680 CJOB it will put an unnecessary strain on our court system.
“There’s going to be problems with those prosecutions, they’re all medical marijuana users. Sure, they may be selling to some non-prescription people, but it’s going to be legalized for that purpose as well soon,” said VanderGraaf.
In April, Health Minister Jane Philpott announced plans to legalize and regulate marijuana by next spring.
When it comes to dispensaries, VanderGraaf says regulations need to be imposed at a municipal level.
“It’s a learning process for everybody,” he said with a warning.
“But what they have to understand is that if they regulate too heavily that they’re going to push it right back into the hands of organized crime.”
Winnipeg does not have any medical marijuana dispensaries approved by Health Canada. One did open on Main Street in July, but was quickly shutdown by police and the owner was arrested.
Photo: Global News