Tag Archives: Cannabis Culture

Future of Cannabis Culture dispensaries up in smoke after police raids

“Our livelihood, our brand, our money, our inventories all gone!” says owner Marc Emery, after co-ordinated police operation shuts down storefront marijuana shops in Toronto and franchise’s head office in Vancouver 

 Cannabis Culture’s Queen West location was closed after Friday’s police raids. 

The faint smell of marijuana smoke hung in the halls of Old City Hall on Friday, as dozens turned out for the bail hearing of Cannabis Culture dispensary owners Marc and Jodie Emery.

The “Prince and Princess of Pot,” were arrested, along with business partners Chris Goodwin, Erin Goodwin, and Britney Guerra, on Wednesday night and charged with raft of marijuana-related offences, including trafficking and possession of the proceeds of crime. The arrests were part of Project Gator, a nationwide operation co-ordinated by Toronto police specifically targeting six Cannabis Culture locations in Toronto and Hamilton, and Cannabis Culture’s magazine offices in Vancouver, where no charges were laid but computers seized. Two Cannabis Culture stores in Ottawa were also raided, though police say those were not connected to Project Gator.

Police seized more than 65 kilograms of cannabis and 2.4 kilograms of concentrates, as well as more than $250,000 in cash, ramping up a police war on dispensaries that has been escalating in recent weeks as the Trudeau government, which has promised a recreational marijuana regime by spring, continues to drag its feet on legalization.  

It’s unclear why Cannabis Culture was targeted. One might interpret Project Gator as a final swipe by the police at the Emerys, who have had a long history of facing off against law enforcement as the faces of the legalization movement in Canada. The couple were front and centre during last May’s Project Claudia raids, with Jodie Emery crashing the police press conference at City Hall to protest the police action. 

But a number of armed robberies of dispensaries in recent months, including at a dispensary on Eglinton West in midtown February 15, has sparked renewed calls from local politicians to shutdown the operations.

And while the Emerys were released Friday, there will be questions about the future of their storefront franchise, which boasts some 19 locations in B.C., Ontario and Quebec.

As a condition of their release, both Marc and Jodie Emery must not aid in the operation of their businesses. The Emerys were given two weeks to extricate themselves from the day-to-day operation of Cannabis Culture or risk violating the terms of their release and being sent to jail.

There are no clear answers on how the stores will operate without the involvement of the Emerys, who have been the face of the franchise. But the couple seem prepared to comply with the terms of their release for now. 

“Jodie and I can no longer be involved with Cannabis Culture stores or the brand, despite it being the culmination of 24 years of hard work and struggle,” wrote Emery in a Facebook post late Friday, that he says was written in an internet cafe after police seized their phones and computers. “You won’t find me at any Cannabis Culture stores, or any dispensary, for that matter. Our livelihood, our brand, our money, our inventories all gone!” 

Emery writes that plans are in the works for a cross-Canada tour in May, but the couple’s current bail conditions forbid them from leaving Ontario. 

According to Emery, Cannabis Culture employees are “keen to take over” the businesses.

Certainly, by Friday afternoon, even before the Emerys had been released, Cannabis Culture’s Church Street store had re-opened, with staff openly defying the police by selling a special strain, “OG Gator,” as a middle finger to the police operation.

“We’re going to re-open every time,” said Chris, an employee at the store, who did not provide a last name. He, along with other employees and the store manager, were present during the raids, but not charged. It was another twist in a day full of them.

What should have otherwise been a fairly routine bail hearing was marked by confusion from the start. First scheduled for 10 am, the start time was pushed back an hour to accommodate the large crowd of supporters in the courthouse. Proceedings were delayed again, because the defendants had not fully read the 50-page summary setting out the charges against them. Shortly after noon, the court learned that the Justice of the Peace assigned to the court had become ill and needed to be taken to hospital, delaying proceedings until after 2 pm, when another justice could be found. All five were eventually released at around 7 p.m. on Friday.

The Emerys will appear in court again on April 21. Their lawyer had initially proposed April 20 (also known as 420, the day reserved for the annual smoke-out at Nathan Phillips Square), but moved the date at Marc Emery’s immediate – and passionate – objection. 

Original article can be found here

Jodie Emery forced to give up Cannabis Culture

Canada’s “Princess of Pot” has been dethroned.

After her recent arrest along with husband Marc at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport as part of a sting operation targeting Cannabis Culture outlets across the country, Jodie Emery has been set free but with cruel and unusual bail conditions.

Including giving up her life’s work with Cannabis Culture.

In a Facebook post, she recounted her ordeal to supporters:

“I’m finally free, along with my beloved husband and friends, after I spent two long nights in remand and then a women’s jail here in Toronto. It was horrific and degrading and unjust, being stripped naked twice, caged in numerous cells, and put through that entire ordeal but now I know first-hand what so many hundreds of thousands of people have suffered and experienced at the hands of sadistic prohibitionists.”

In order to be released on bail, I am no longer allowed to be the owner and operator of Cannabis Culture — including the magazine, headshops, and vapour lounges. I cannot attend any location, not even our 307 West Hastings Street headquarters, where I’ve spent 13 years devoting my life 100% to ending cannabis prohibition and the drug war worldwide. My advocacy won’t end. My activism won’t stop. But it will all be done as the individual Jodie Emery, not as part of Cannabis Culture, which utterly breaks my heart.

We have had everything taken from us by these actions of the Toronto Drug Squad, Toronto Police, and the Trudeau Liberal government but we have survived cruel injustices before, and we will survive this massive effort to destroy us and our hard work. And I know I can live in peace, knowing that we have NEVER hurt anyone — it’s the prohibitionist government and police who have hurt and even killed millions of people in their drug war — and knowing our decades of activism work has helped millions of people worldwide. The aggressors and oppressors are the evil-doers… we’ve only every been peaceful and passionate in our campaign for true cannabis freedom.

Tomorrow, we hope to get phones so we can speak with family, friends and loved ones. For now, I want to say thank you to everyone who supports us, and I promise that I will NEVER stop pushing for liberty for our people, our culture, and our plant. That’s been the goal all along, even those long hard years of Marc’s 2005-2014 extradition battle and imprisonment, when we had next to nothing, but still gave our all to the marijuana legalization movement.

Sending love to everyone who fights alongside us for freedom.”

Original article can be found here

Cannabis Culture Dispensaries Owned By Emerys Tied To Organized Crime: Police

TORONTO — Police in Toronto are accusing Cannabis Culture marijuana dispensaries of being part of a “large franchise operation of alleged high-level drug traffickers.”

Prominent marijuana activists Marc and Jodie Emery — who own the Cannabis Culture brand — were granted bail Friday after their arrest on Wednesday. Marc Emery faces 15 charges, including conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime, while Jodie Emery faces five similar counts.

Officers seized $250,000 in cash in several currencies, 65 kilograms of marijuana and 2.4 kilograms of cannabis extract and other drug paraphernalia after searching seven Cannabis Culture stores and several homes on Thursday, police said.

A man smokes a joint as police officers stand outside the Cannabis Culture shop during a police raid, in Vancouver on Thursday. (Photo: Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press) 

Given the amount of marijuana the stores “can only be supplied by illegitimate sources often tied to organized crime,” acting Insp. Steve Watts alleged.

“The public should know that this isn’t an altruistic venture, this is purely a profit-motivated venture,” Watts said. “Anyone with a prescription for marijuana can go through Health Canada, who have an abundant supply.”

Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said seven Cannabis Culture locations — five in Toronto, one in Hamilton and another in Vancouver — were searched on Thursday along with two homes in Toronto, one in Stoney Creek, Ont., and one in Vancouver.

The Emerys appeared in a Toronto courtroom on Friday afternoon where they were granted bail with several conditions, including a ban on possessing or consuming marijuana and other drugs except with a prescription.

Marc Emery was previously arrested at one of his new Montreal dispensaries in December and charged with drug trafficking. (Photo: Toronto Star via Getty Images) 

They were also barred from going to any Cannabis Culture location or other dispensary, as well as facilitating or participating in running any Cannabis Culture shop. The Cannabis Culture brand is used by a chain of 19 marijuana dispensaries in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.

The Emerys called on the federal Liberals to stop enforcing the current laws and immediately act on their promise to legalize marijuana. Marc Emery said the high profile role he and his wife have taken in fighting for legalization for more than 20 years is the reason police are targeting them.

“The government fears us,” Emery told reporters minutes after emerging from a Toronto courthouse late Friday. “Our example has been the shining example for 25 years, we have been at the forefront of making this legalization happen.”

“I think this is all part of the struggle and we’ll bear through it well,” Emery added, his wife’s head on his shoulder at times as the couple angrily denounced the governing Liberals.

A Vancouver-based lawyer for the Emerys said in a statement that “several cannabis activists’’ have been arrested in addition to his clients. (Photo: CP) 

In addition to the Emerys, police charged three other people on Thursday. Thirty-seven-year-old Chris Goodwin and 31-year-old Erin Goodwin, both of Toronto, and 29-year-old Britney Guerra of Stoney Creek face charges that include conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

The federal government is moving to legalize marijuana, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emphasized late last year that the current laws exist.

“Our history of enforcing the law against illegal cannabis dispensaries is well established,” Pugash said Thursday. “This is the latest effort in our law enforcement, and I’m certain there will be further action.”

Toronto police also cited safety as a reason for the raids on the dispensaries.

“Our history of enforcing the law against illegal cannabis dispensaries is well established.”

“Included in the sale of marijuana, was shatter, which our officers purchased. Shatter is a distilled marijuana resin that is far more potent,” Watts said.

“It is also dangerous to produce,” he said noting an explosion at a dispensary in August 2016 that blew out windows and left a man injured.

The number of reported robberies of dispensaries in the city is also a community safety concern, he said.

This year alone, there have been seven reported robberies — five involving firearms, Watts said.

“There were three instances where firearms were discharged and, on one occasion, two people were stabbed,” he said.

Original article can be found here

Governments making millions on illegal pot shops  Owners

Cannabis Culture owner Mark Emery (right), the city’s self-proclaimed Prince of Pot, and Weed the North owner Cory Stoneham, now jokingly referring to himself as the King of Cannabis, peruse the front-page story on marijuana dispensaries in Tuesday’s Toronto Sun. (Chris Doucette/Toronto Sun)

Governments have reaped hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes, licensing costs and other fees from just two illegal Toronto pot shops, say the dispensaries’ owners.

And they estimate federal, provincial and municipal governments have already collected millions from the rogue businesses across Canada while the country waits for marijuana to be officially legalized.

“My one Cannabis Culture on Church St. paid $434,000 in HST payments for the three months, from October to December, and $22,000 in payroll deductions,” the self-proclaimed Prince of Pot Mark Emery said Tuesday, disputing a recent Toronto Police claim that dispensaries are not paying taxes.

Emery claims that when he made his first HST payment to Canada Revenue Agency, he was informed as many as 100 pot dispensaries across the country have been paying their taxes.

A perpetual line of customers with cash in hand, filed through his smoke-filled shop on Church St. Tuesday afternoon. A private security guard, hired in the wake of the recent spike in pot shop heists, kept watch nearby.

Emery said business has been growing so rapidly since he started selling dispensary weed at the location last fall that the store’s 28 employees can barely keep up.

The booming location typically handles more than 1,500 customers a day, but last Friday the shop soared to a new high when 1,932 people stopped in to buy cannabis prior to the long weekend, he said.

“Sales from that one day alone amount to about $10,500 in HST for CRA,” Emery said, adding the shop’s HST total for 2017 could be close to $2 million by year’s end.

“That’s all new revenue that used to just end up on the street,” he said. “So the government is the biggest stakeholder in my business.”

Weed the North owner Cory Stoneham, who jokingly referred to himself as the King of Cannabis after appearing on the front of Tuesday’s Toronto Sun, said he faces similar dilemmas but on a smaller scale because he’s still growing his business.

The ongoing threat of police raids also go hand-in-hand with operating an illegal business, but Stoneham claims cops went too far when they raided his Eglinton West location for a second time last month — allegedly damaging his storefront sign, tearing the wrap plastered across the shop’s front windows and smashing open an ATM owned by a third party.

Police deny any wrongdoing.

Original article can be found here

Brantford cops raid pot dispensary 3 days after it opens

Cannabis Culture opened Sunday, was raided Tuesday.

Marc Emery, who owns the Cannabis Culture brand with his wife Jodie, holds a handful of cannabis at the opening of one of their stores in Montreal. A company storefront in Brantford was raided Tuesday. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Brantford police raided a pot dispensary Tuesday, a day after it opened, and arrested a 35-year-old Stoney Creek man.

Police went to Cannabis Culture on Colborne Street West around 8:30 p.m. and determined that “the business was selling marijuana to persons who did not possess a medical marijuana license,” according to a press release.
They charged the man with possession for the purposes of trafficking.

The federal government has committed to legalizing marijuana, but it hasn’t happened yet.
In Hamilton, local police have said that until it does, they follow the law and charge people who sell marijuana. A Cannabis Culture branch in Hamilton is among an increasing number of marijuana dispensaries around the city.
The owner of Cannabis Culture, Marc Emery, refers to himself as “the Prince of Pot.” The locations offer pot strains that include Pakistani Kush, LSD, White Widow and Brainwreck. The latter, the website says, is “a strong experience that will give you energy but still get you very stoned.”
In Brantford, police closed the business and, as of Wednesday morning, were waiting to get judicial approval to search it.

Some edits done by Dab Canada. Original CBC article here.