To: Doug Ford, ON Premier; Mulroney, ON AG; Fedeli, Min. of Finance, ON

Ontario's Police Raids, Illicit Dispensaries, and Precarious Labour.

Ontario's Police Raids, Illicit Dispensaries, and Precarious Labour.

I am asking Ontario's Premier and Attorney General to ensure that the province's cannabis dispensary workers not be arrested during ongoing raids of illicit cannabis dispensaries.

Why is this important?

Dispenasry workers face fines, arrest, and up to 2 years in jail for the crime of working (and paying taxes) in a grey/black market venture. Please help workers caught in this regrettable, structural failure under Ontario's Conservative Government, and its failed MJ distribution scheme.

More arrests, this time in Ottawa and Windsor, maybe Leo Lucier could get you some respondents: https://sputniknews.com/us/201811091069661388-cannabis-shops-raided-ontario/

TO police raided 5 dispensaries, 19 October: https://www.theglobeandmail.com/cannabis/article-toronto-police-raid-and-shut-down-five-marijuana-dispensaries-vow-to/

6 arrested in Hamilton, Oct. 25: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/hamilton-police-execute-warrant-georgia-peach-cannabis-dispensary-1.4880436)

And four more arrests Tues, 6 Nov, in Essex, ON: https://theprovince.com/news/local-news/opp-lay-cannabis-act-charges-after-raid-on-pot-shop-in-essex/wcm/f65698d7-ea66-49b3-8a03-23220ced72ed


Reasons for signing

  • Giving dispensary workers a criminal record is not going to make them better citizens, it is only going to marginalize them further. I know, I conducted field work among illicit cannabis workers in BC for over a decade. Criminal records drive these workers deeper into careers in criminal enterprise, toward substance abuse problems (among other, deleterious, social determinants of health), systemic discrimination in the legitimate labour market, and structural violence.

Updates

2018-11-13 11:56:13 -0500

Is it possible to begin a legal defence fund, perhaps contributed to by Canada's LPs as well (e.g. Canopy Growth Corp, Aurora, Tilray, etc.), to help these workers? I would be thrilled to hear from Canadians concerned for the welfare of Ontario's only brick-and-mortar cannabis retail workers.

- Clayton McCann MA, MFA, PhD Student & Cannabis Studies Research;
McMaster University, Department of Anthropology

2018-11-13 11:54:12 -0500

On the line, I suspect, are the many other, now-illicit, dispensary workers, who may work without the protection of the law, and face similar consequences if raided. City of Hamilton By-law personnel have informed me that "over 30 illegal dispensaries have voluntarily closed their doors" in anticipation of garnering a license under the new regime. This means about 20 stores persist in operations. That could equate, easily, to over 100 wage workers in vulnerable labour positions. In Hamilton alone.

The real risk, however, is these kids are driven to the streets, to become members of street populations, after barriers to employment, housing, and social services result in zero options.

2018-11-13 11:52:40 -0500

I'm deeply concerned for workers in illicit cannabis dispensaries (under Ontario's new Law, Bill 174) in the province, as police have begun raiding dispensaries here, and rounding up workers (see: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/hamilton/hamilton-police-execute-warrant-georgia-peach-cannabis-dispensary-1.4880436). There are obviously risks in this unstable labour market, in cities with limited opportunities for young adults with minimal educational prospects. I have visited all Hamilton dispensaries, numerous times, and witnessed young adults seeking social mobility, some very marginalized already. These kids don't work in illicit cannabis because they're bad-asses, gang-bangers, or anarchists. They work there because they need the money.