City update on enforcement against illegal cannabis storefronts

The City of Toronto is continuing to make progress against illegal cannabis storefronts. The Province of Ontario’s Cannabis Control Act, which came into effect six months ago on October 17, 2018, legalized the distribution, sale and consumption of cannabis. Since then, the city has conducted ongoing investigations into illegal cannabis storefronts, resulting in 41 charges.

The city is currently investigating 21 suspected illegal cannabis storefronts. The city has nine bylaw enforcement officers focused on cannabis enforcement, which includes: conducting investigations, issuing closure orders, barring entry into premises, conducting seizures (of product and money, for example) and search warrants, and laying charges.

Individuals charged under the Cannabis Control Act can face fines of up to $250,000 and face imprisonment of two years less a day. Operators that are fined are also no longer eligible to apply for a legal cannabis retail licence under the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

Corporations can be charged a minimum of $25,000 and up to $1 million. Following a fine, the Justice of the Peace can also issue a closure order against a property for up to two years, which means the property cannot be rented to another individual or company.

Charges under the Cannabis Control Act are considered a provincial offense. There are currently 15 charges before the courts and have yet to reach a decision. Another 26 are awaiting a court date.

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