21:45 GMT24 November 2020
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    Police in Ontario have been raiding cannabis dispensaries in the province just days after Canada voted to legalise the drug. Sputnik looks at the official explanation and the bemused reaction on social media.

    The first legal outlets — government-owned Ontario Cannabis Stores — are not set to open in the province until April. 

    But police have stepped up raids on illegal cannabis dispensaries.

    Two pot shops were raided on Tuesday, November 6, in Ottawa, only a few miles from the Canadian federal parliament where legislation to legalise cannabis was passed last month.

    ​Constable Amy Gagnon, of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), told reporters they had charged six people and seized cannabis from both shops.

    The three men and three women were charged under Ontario's Cannabis Act, which actually legalizes the sale of cannabis, but only under certain conditions.

    Wait Until April to Buy Weed

    Ontario has agreed to allow marijuana to be sold online but says new official cannabis stores will not be ready to open until April.

    Critics say customers have been waiting for weeks for cannabis which they have bought online.

    The owners of existing cannabis dispensaries in Ontario have been told they have to close first before they can be considered for a licence to operate one of the new stores.

    ​Police also raided the Compassion House store in Windsor, near the US border, on Tuesday, November 6, arresting five people — including long-time cannabis campaigner Leo Lucier and seizing weed, money and weighing equipment.

    "If they had given me a warning, I would've shut down. I waited until legalisation to open. If I'm breaking the law, somebody should tell me," Lucier told the Windsor Star newspaper.

    'We Enforce The Laws'

    Recreational cannabis was legalised for use by adults on October 17 but two days later the OPP raided five cannabis dispensaries in Toronto.

    ​"We enforce the laws of the land that stand at this time," said Constable Andy Drouillard.

    Although the new legislation allows cannabis to be possessed and sold, it also brings in tougher penalties for those who break the law.

    Lucier and his colleagues could conceivably be jailed for up to 18 months.

    ​Several other states, like British Columbia, have already set up legal dispensaries or have legalised existing suppliers.

    The Liberal Party government of Justin Trudeau — who promised to legalise cannabis when he was elected in 2015 — predicts it will raise $400m a year in tax revenues on the sale of cannabis.    


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    marijuana legalization, cannabis, police, drugs, Ontario, Canada, Ottawa
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