Two years ago the Trudeau government promised to support the legalization of marijuana but instead has continued urging a police crackdown on dispensaries. Dubbed Project Gator, the most recent raids occurred across Canada today with dozens of police simultaneously swooping in on five Cannabis Culture locations in Toronto, one in Vancouver and one in Hamilton arresting five people. 

The Church Street location was one of seven that were raided by police.

The raids are being positioned by police as “enforcing the law” but it looks more like a disciplinary action intended to make an example of them. Is this how we deal with business who may be breaking the law? Why the big dog-and-pony-show, is this really how they take down illegal massage clinics or how we bust drivers who are lacking a proper license?

The punishment and subsequent reaction by police should be relative to the threats posed. Instead of following every letter of the law, apply it in the spirit in which it was intended. A bunch of stoners in a café hardly qualify as a monstrous threat, one that warrants massive rap sheets and locking people in prison. If this all sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve been down this road before. We’re living in a time of repeats, only when the injustices happen again it’s always to a new group, one that has less political clout.

Jodie and Marc Emery

This is not a fight over legalities. This is an issue of how we deal with our citizens, especially crusaders who are trying to change the laws for all of our benefit. In Toronto, Sunday shopping was illegal until Paul Magder kept his business open in an act of defiance. Variety stores had to close every night by 10pm until Honest Ed Mirvish came along. And then there are the more globally recognized achievements like Martin Luther King, Gandhi and Mother Teresa who all broke the law in order to speak truth to authority. Social change has never come by asking politely, instead it takes people willing to make a sacrifice for the greater good.

There are consequences when you stand up to authority as Marc Emery and his wife Jodie know all too well. As the owners of Cannabis Culture they were among the arrested yesterday and charged with overly serious crimes including trafficking, possession and conspiracy to commit an indictable offence.

Make no mistake, these raids are about maintaining control. It’s petty, unbecoming and a colossal waste of our resources. There’s a gentler way to achieve change. #FreeCannabisCulture Comments can be left below: