Hamilton police are making significant headway as they shut down illegal cannabis dispensaries in the city.
Speaking at Thursday’s Hamilton Police Services Board meeting, Deputy Chief Dan Kinsella says 15 dispensaries have voluntarily closed since the beginning of the year and police have executed nine warrants at other locations.
New powers came into effect on Jan. 1st that allowed police to change the locks, put an alarm on the premises and use other security techniques to ensure the businesses stay closed.
Kinsella says there are currently 16 illegal dispensaries operating in Hamilton, although he adds that they continue to monitor that number, as it changes daily.
“The big piece is waiting for the courts to provide the appropriate disposition and penalty to deter the behaviour of individuals from participating in illegal dispensaries,” said Kinsella.
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Ward 6 Councillor Tom Jackson praised the work of police, saying he’d heard concerns from the community about illegal storefronts continuing to operate.
“If nothing else, the message that we’re sending is that we’re not tolerating illegal activity,” said Jackson. “Up until the seizures, the community, I heard from so many saying, ‘Tom, how come these illegal illicit operations are just getting away with it?'”
More than 30 illegal dispensaries had been operating in Hamilton before the new ‘lock and hold’ process came into effect.
Hamilton Police Chief Eric Girt said the public may not understand exactly what goes into shutting down the dispensaries.
“My position has been if you do it improperly, what you will generate is bad case law,” said Girt. “You have to do it properly. Quite frankly, the law had not been defined in some cases. We’ve had no rulings on the new law. That still is part of the legal process. So the courts will decide what is reasonable or not, and particularly in penalties.
“We’re quite interested in what those penalties will be.”