Toronto police charged nine people over the weekend for selling cannabis outside of two locations of CAFE — a chain of illegal dispensaries that has continued operating despite the city’s repeated attempts to shut it down.
A 22-year-old man was charged with unlawful sale and distribution on Saturday after he allegedly sold pot in front of CAFE’s Fort York location.
Then on Sunday, eight more people were charged with unlawful sale for allegedly setting up shop in front of both the Fort York Boulevard and Harbord Street locations of the chain. All of those charged on Sunday are 31 years old or younger.
Police say that at least some of those arrested are employees of CAFE, and that they seized iPads with customer information, debit machines, cannabis products and walkie-talkie radios during the arrests.
The city’s Municipal Licensing and Standards department has tried multiple times to close CAFE’s various locations in Toronto. After the latest attempts, makeshift sales counters began selling cannabis on sidewalks nearby the brick and mortar stores.
“When it happens inside it falls under the city bylaws, but once it happens outside, as it did, then it becomes a Toronto police issue,” said Toronto police Cont. Alyson Douglas-Cook.
More arrests connected to the Fort York location on Sunday will be announced later today, Douglas-Cook said.
Entryways blocked with concrete
According to the City of Toronto, more than 70 provincial charges have previously been laid against CAFE’s staff and landlords.
Police officers also blocked the entryways to all four CAFE locations with giant concrete slabs last week.
Soon after that, the company announced “new locations opening now in anticipation of this inconvenience.”
Last week, CBC Toronto published an investigation into CAFE’s ownership structure and how the chain has managed to keep its doors open where many illegal Toronto dispensaries have shuttered.
CAFE, whose longer name is Cannabis and Fine Edibles, describes itself as a “a cannabis brand on a mission to do good, help people feel good, create informed consumers, and give back to our community while keeping it safe.”
CBC Toronto has reached out to CAFE for comment.