March 9, 2017 7:38 am
Updated: March 9, 2017 6:31 pm

Marc and Jodie Emery charged in Toronto amid marijuana dispensary raids across Canada

WATCH ABOVE: Security camera at Toronto Cannabis Culture location captures police raid

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Marc and Jodie Emery, Canada’s self-proclaimed “Prince and Princess of Pot,” have been arrested and charged in Toronto in connection with coordinated raids on numerous Cannabis Culture marijuana dispensaries across the country.

The couple’s Vancouver-based lawyer, Kirk Tousaw, said the marijuana activists were arrested at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport Wednesday night and were being held in custody while awaiting bail hearings that were put over to Friday.

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READ MORE: Canadian marijuana legalization timeline: Dispensary raids and major announcements

The Emerys own 19 Cannabis Culture marijuana dispensaries across Canada and Toronto police said Thursday they had executed raids on seven dispensaries and four homes in connection with an investigation dubbed Project Gator.

Five Cannabis Culture locations in Toronto, one in Hamilton and one in Vancouver were raided and police said a total of five people had been charged across the country in connection with the investigation. Toronto police said search warrants were also executed on two Toronto residences, one in Vancouver and one in Stoney Creek, Ont.

“Make no mistake, this is not about public safety. This is not about protecting the public,” Tousaw said in a statement.

“There is no harm being done by the production and sale of cannabis, for medical or recreational purposes, in storefront dispensaries.”

READ MORE: Why Toronto’s pot dispensaries are still open despite serious drug trafficking charges

Toronto police spokesman Mark Pugash said they don’t have the resources to shut down every dispensary in the city, so investigators “prioritize” the execution of search warrants.

“We’ve been enforcing the law for some time. In spite of what some dispensary owners would have you believe – the law is absolutely clear,” he said.

“Dispensaries are illegal. We have been enforcing the law. We will continue to enforce the law as long as it remains clear that the dispensaries are illegal.”

Marijuana legalization activists Amy Brown and Tracey Curley told Global News outside the Toronto courthouse Thursday they believed the Cannabis Culture locations were being “simultaneously raided.”

“From what we understand, is that various owners of Cannabis Culture franchises are now being arrested,” Curley said.

“Britney Guerra, the owner of Cannabis Culture Hamilton, was just recently arrested at her house.”

Curley said Cannabis Culture franchise owners Chris and Erin Goodwin were also “confronted by police” at the Toronto courthouse while they were reportedly waiting to provide bail money for the Emerys.

“They were arrested on site for possession for the purpose of trafficking,” she said. “[We are] a little shocked that it’s happening so fast and so quickly and so many people being affected right now.”

Brown said the arrests of Cannabis Culture franchise owners were “heartbreaking” but would not affect the operation of the dispensaries going forward.

READ MORE: How will legal pot be sold? Three things that might happen, and one that won’t

“The cannabis industry is not going to change. It’s a small bump in the cannabis industry,” she said. “I’m assuming Cannabis Cultures will be back open in the next day or so.”

Tammy Robbinson, spokeswoman for the City of Toronto’s municipal licensing and standards division, said the sale of marijuana in retail stores is illegal under federal law and in violation of the city’s zoning bylaws, adding other dispensaries could be targeted in the future.

“In February, the City of Toronto filed an application for injunction in the Superior Court of Justice in relation to seven Canna Clinic locations operating illegal marijuana stores,” she said.

“Today, the City participated with a Toronto Police Service led initiative that included search warrants at a number of Cannabis Culture stores across the city.”

READ MORE: Why the government can’t charge more than $10 a gram for legal pot

Robinson said  the city will continue to collaborate with Toronto police to “investigate marijuana stores and charge, as appropriate.”

The Emerys were reportedly travelling to Barcelona, Spain to attend cannabis expo Spannabis, according to a Facebook post by Marc Emery.

Police raid a Cannabis Culture marijuana dispensary in Vancouver, B.C. on March 9, 2017.

Global News

Jodie Emery previously said she intended to open her latest location in Ottawa, just steps from the Parliament Buildings.

The 32-year-old recently appeared as a guest on AM980’s The Pulse with Devon Peacock after London Police raided five dispensaries in the city last Thursday.

READ MORE: Canada will see 900,000 new pot smokers under legalization, poll implies

The raids carried out by London Police took place two days after Bill Blair, former Toronto police chief and current parliamentary secretary to the minister of justice, came to London to visit with police leadership and city officials to discuss a regulatory framework for legalizing marijuana in Canada.

In December, 10 people were arrested by police in Montreal after raids on six newly opened Cannabis Culture dispensaries.

Marc and Jodie Emery appear in court in Toronto on March 9, 2017.

Pam Davies / Global News

In May 2016, Toronto police raided dozens of marijuana dispensaries in the city, seized hundreds of kilograms of marijuana and laid more than 250 charges under an investigation dubbed Project Claudia.

Police said at the time the raids were due to concerns over the “rapid increase of opening of illegal dispensaries” and the “lack of quality control” that could affect public health and safety.

The exact location of the dispensaries raided across Canada Thursday and the full list of charges the five suspects face are as follows:

Toronto

  • 461 Church St.
  • 801 Queen St. W.
  • 711 Queen St. E.
  • 365 King St. W.
  • 3440 Lake Shore Blvd. W.

Hamilton

  • 275 King St. E.

Vancouver

  • 307 West Hastings St.

Marc Emery, 59, of Toronto, was arrested and charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence
  • Three counts of drug trafficking
  • Five counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking
  • Five counts of possession of the proceeds of crime
  • Failure to comply with recognizance

Jodie Emery, 32, of Vancouver, was arrested and charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence
  • Drug trafficking
  • Possession for the purpose of trafficking
  • Two counts of possession of the proceeds of crime

Chris Goodwin, 37, of Toronto, was arrested and charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence
  • Possession for the purpose of trafficking
  • Possession of the proceeds of crime

Erin Goodwin, 31, of Toronto, was arrested and charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence
  • Failure to comply with recognizance

Britney Guerra, 29, of Stoney Creek, was arrested and charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit an indictable offence
  • Three counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking
  • Three counts of possession of the proceeds of crime

All five suspects are scheduled to appear in a Toronto court Friday at 10 a.m. to face the charges against them.

With files from Travis Dolynny, Catherine McDonald and Veronica Tang

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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