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OPP shut down six “Indige Smoke” locations, building subject to closure orders

Media Partners, Stratcann

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Police in Ontario executed nine search warrants on June 5 in an attempt to shut down six unlicensed “Indige Smoke” cannabis stores.

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) say they sought to shut down Indige Smoke locations in Hamilton, Fort Erie, Thorold, Welland, St. Catharines, and Leamington.

The enforcement was conducted by the OPP-led Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team (PJFCET), OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau, and OPP Provincial Asset Forfeiture Unit, with assistance from the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) uniform members and NRPS Emergency Task Unit members.

Police estimate around $1 million worth of cannabis and tobacco was seized, along with weapons and other equipment. Eleven people were arrested and charged with 34 offences. They were released from custody and will appear before the Ontario Court of Justice in St. Catharines on July 18, 2024.

The storefronts are now under Interim Closure Orders under Ontario’s Cannabis Control Act (CCA), which means that no one, including the property owners, can enter those premises unless they first apply to the Superior Court of Justice to get permission under section 18(4) of the CCA. Anyone who enters the buildings without prior permission may be arrested and charged with Break and Enter.

This is at least the second time police have targeted the Indige Smoke stores. In March, three were shut down, seizing products and arresting three people. Those stores were quickly open again following the raids, according to posts on their Instagram account, although at least one location had a notice of Closing Orders posted as well.

While some Indigenous and First Nations activists have argued that they can operate cannabis businesses without provincial or federal oversight, the provincial and federal governments have disagreed. In a recent court case in Nova Scotia, a judge rejected an attempt by several Indigenous cannabis store owners in the province to argue they can operate without provincial approval.

This post was originally published by our media partner here.