Police in Hamilton, Ontario raided four cannabis dispensaries on Thursday, closing the pot shops down and leaving them secured with new locks. City and provincial police raided all four locations of the Georgia Peach chain of dispensaries, according to media reports. Law enforcement officers arrested 25 people and have filed 50 criminal charges following the raids.
Local police and officers from an Ontario provincial enforcement team tasked with enforcing regulations against unlicensed cannabis retailers served search warrants at the four locations simultaneously on Thursday afternoon. The raids occurred at the Georgia Peach shops on George, Dundurn, and Upper James Streets. Deputy Chief Dan Kinsella of the Hamilton Police Department said that before leaving the raided shops, officers changed the locks and installed surveillance equipment to prevent the dispensaries from reopening.
“That involves alarming the premises and putting up the appropriate signage to let everybody know Hamilton police are now in possession of the premises,” said Kinsella. “The doors are locked and barred.”
Total of 14 Dispensaries Closed in Hamilton
Including the Georgia Peach stores, six unlicensed dispensaries in Hamilton have now been closed by police. Earlier this month, police served a search warrant at the Haze dispensary on King Street East. That was the first time Hamilton police locked and alarmed a raided marijuana retailer. Before that, closed dispensaries would usually quickly reopen, often the next day.
Another shop, the Dank Dispensary, was shuttered by police after a burglary on January 16. Since then, eight more unlicensed cannabis dispensaries have closed without enforcement action from the police, according to Kinsella.
“That’s encouraging to us. I think the message is getting out there,” he said.
After the raid at Haze, Kinsella said that police would continue to close illegal dispensaries as quickly as constraints allow.
“It’s a resources issue,” he explained. “It takes time to gather the evidence, prepare the search warrants, appear before the justice of the peace … we are systematically working through it and we will continue to chip away at the problem.”
Kinsella also said that law enforcement is calling on judges to get tougher on unlicensed cannabis operators.
“Until the courts deliver sentences to the individuals involved that make it prohibitive for them to participate in the illegal cannabis industry, we’re not going to see any change,” said Kinsella.
The deputy chief said that property owners renting to unlicensed dispensaries should take notice of the police action.
“If they’re not going to close them down, then Hamilton police are going to come and close it for them,” Kinsella said.
Despite the precautions taken by police to ensure the raided dispensaries remain closed, less than 24 hours later on Friday morning, Georgia Peach announced via Twitter that the George Street location had already reopened.
“Hi Friends! Georgia Peach is currently OPEN at 72 George Street, Hamilton Ontario,” the post reads.