Legalization

Hamilton Cops are running out of space for illegal weed
Legalization

Canadian cops run out of space for all the weed for they’re confiscating

“We can’t just put it into any closet in our police facility,” a superintendent said.

Mar 30, 2018 - Zack Kotzer

TORONTO, ON – MAY 26 – Police remove Marijuana products from Cannawide dispensary in Kensington Market on May 26, 2016. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Hamilton Cops are running out of space for illegal weed

TORONTO, ON – MAY 26 – Police remove Marijuana products from Cannawide dispensary in Kensington Market on May 26, 2016. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

For smokers across Canada, the federal legalization of marijuana can’t come soon enough. After a few delays, the rollout is currently slated for the end of the summer. But for one police department, time might be more pressing. According to a police superintendent in Hamilton, Ontario, the cops have run out of storage space for all the illegal cannabis they’ve confiscated.

As the country moves towards legalization, busting the not-entirely-legal-yet dispensaries has been a contentious matter. Soon after Justin Trudeau’s election victory in 2015, and his reiteration about the priority of pot legalization, gray market dispensaries began popping up like, well, a weed across the country. It didn’t take long for these dispensaries to be the subject of raids, one of the largest being Project Claudia, which struck a number of pot shops across Toronto simultaneously. Police officials said they were clamping down on illegal activity and keeping edibles away from kids, though some were skeptical about the purpose of such large gestures just ahead of a new drug policy.

Even if it’s just pageantry, Hamilton simply can’t afford to bust any more dispensaries. With 46 known illegal dispensaries, Hamilton has some of the most weed per capita in Ontario. When they are hit by police, stations are swamped with contraband that requires testing, while the only people booked are typically part-time budtenders.

CannabisPoliceSeize Medical marijuana patients are getting evicted in legal states
TORONTO, ON – JUNE 3 
Project Sizzle – Toronto Police revealed details of the gangs and drugs bust that led them to arrest more than 50 people in morning raids Thursday. They also displayed weapons and drugs seized. Early Thursday morning, police executed 42 search warrants across the GTA in Operation Sizzle, led by the Integrated Gun and Gang Task Force. Police were spotted outside a condo in the Fort York neighbourhood and an apartment building at Dufferin and Liberty Sts. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

“We have limited space for our drug storage,” Superintendent Ryan Diodati told Hamilton City Council. “As you can imagine there’s the venting considerations that we have, there’s a strong, pungent odor with processed marijuana, so we can’t just put it into any closet in our police facility.”

Diodati told the Hamilton council how trivial these raids were becoming as the department was slim on time and resources to manage all the incoming weed stuffs. Processing goods can take over 100 hours. Sending these drugs to an offsite storage facility would raise obvious security concerns, Diodati added.

The worst part is that the personnel tasked with dispensary raids have much better things to do with their time. The opioid crisis in Hamilton is twice as severe as it is in most of the rest of Ontario. 

“The people who are responsible for investigating these dispensaries are the same people who are responsible for investigating our opioid-based drugs as well,” said Diodati, “fentanyl, carfentanil, etc. And we only have so many bodies, so if we’re devoting all our staffing hours to dispensaries there’s something else that might be missing.”


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