Massive pot raid makes life in Toronto more dangerous
...Those 90 people arrested — who Saunders seemed to emphasize were not dangerous criminals in any conventional sense, by pointing out how the raids had been designed specifically so they were quickly processed and released — will now face the trauma of arrest, the expense of defending themselves, and will have criminal arrest (and possibly conviction) records that they carry with them as they try to get jobs, cross borders, and so on. Life is suddenly more dangerous and more difficult for most everyone involved.
To deal with a few points far too quickly: the war on drugs, on the whole, is an epic disaster and threat to public safety, and should be abandoned; the legal situation of marijuana dispensing is far from as clear-cut as we’re being told, because courts have consistently ruled that “the government cannot prevent reasonable access to medical marijuana,” as lawyer Dan Stein pointed out in a blog post; and, notwithstanding those rulings, the dispensaries involved were well aware they were operating in a potentially dangerous legal grey area, outside existing regulations and licensing requirements.
In fact, one gets the impression that last point is one reason such large numbers had sprung up so quickly. As the government prepares to bring in a new regime for how legal marijuana is regulated, pot store owners want to stake their claim to a business model to ensure they have a chance of being part of the new regime.
Such a “disruptive” business approach carries risks, and warnings from city hall this week that they should shut down should have made those risks clear.
But it’s also true that the last company to take such an approach in the face of licensing requirements they didn’t like was Uber, who, rather than having its owners and drivers raided and arrested on a large scale, was rewarded with rule changes allowing the service to operate legally.
In a city where routine petty law-breaking that actually endangers people (parking in bike lanes, say) is routinely ignored by police, and where distressing levels of serious law-breaking at the other end of the spectrum (the rate of gun violence this year, for instance) is so far not being contained by police, the question is: Why did the police department and the city decide that these were the infractions they wanted to target with a massive crackdown operation? What the hell is this really all about?...