Taking aim at Leaside’s pot shops

Unfortunately, Leaside is not immune to the wave of “pot shops” that have opened in Toronto.

While we are home to only one of 130 reported shops across the city, it is one too many. In my opinion, the operators are just drug dealers with fancy wallpaper. Judging by the number of calls I have received from local residents, my view is shared by many.

The situation has largely been created by the federal government, which indicated its intent to legalize marijuana, but has been slow to provide any sort of policy framework around regulation of its production and sale.

While this has led to some confusion, there should be none. At no time have storefront sales been permitted. Medicinal users – the only ones currently permitted to consume marijuana – must grow the marijuana themselves, obtain it directly from a healthcare practitioner or obtain it via a courier by a licensed supplier approved by Health Canada.

The obvious issues surrounding unlicensed sellers – aka drug dealers – are that the levels of THC (the mind-altering substance in pot) vary wildly and are commonly mislabeled. And of course, much of their supply comes from organized crime. Unfortunately, the problems don’t end there. Only a few weeks ago, an employee of a pot shop on Eglinton Ave. near Avenue Rd. was “cooking” alleged drugs in the basement. An explosion ensued that blew out the storefront windows, narrowly missing a mother and her baby walking by.

Although the police are unable to comment on the Bayview Ave store, they have recently closed down marijuana stores at 379 Eglinton Ave. East and 562 Mt. Pleasant Rd. Sadly, the process is long and labourious. In order to close a store and lay charges, a search warrant must first be obtained. To obtain a search warrant, undercover officers must first buy product, and court rulings dictate they must do so more than once! If testing confirms what they bought was indeed marijuana, only then will a search warrant be issued.

Fortunately, the news isn’t all bad. Police activity has thus far led to the permanent closure of 62 stores. The federal task force created to advise the government will present its findings by Nov. 30 with the government expected to table a bill by the spring of 2017. In the meantime, 53 Division has assured me that they will continue to work diligently to shut down any stores in our midst.

You can reach me at

About Jon Burnside 34 Articles
Jon Burnside is City Councillor for Ward 26.