Cop Blocked: Concrete blocks no barrier to illegal dispensary owners

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The city’s latest strategy to permanently shutter black market pot dispensaries has, quite literally, been pushed aside.

Their entrances sealed with 2,000 kilogram concrete blocks following raids by police and bylaw officers, one CAFE dispensary location was back in business Thursday afternoon after heavy-duty forklifts were used to move aside the slabs.

Pry bars sit in the forks of a hired telecarrier forklift outside the CAFE pot shop on Bloor St. W. on Thursday, July 18 2019

On Wednesday, a CAFE Dispensary on Fort York Blvd. was shut down, the storefront sealed with concrete blocks.

This was followed Thursday by the closure of three more CAFE dispensaries — their entrances likewise blocked by tonnes of reinforced concrete.

While owners managed to move enough of the blocks at their Harbord St. location to open again, efforts at CAFE Bloor St. weren’t as successful.

Local resident J.R. shows photos of an attempt to remove concrete blocks from the entrance of the closed-down CAFE cannabis dispensary on Bloor St. W. in Toronto on Thursday, July 18 2019

“I got off the subway and walked around the corner, and saw this machine taking a couple of the blocks off,” said J.R., who witnessed the attempted opening a little after 3 p.m.

“Within about 10 minutes I heard sirens, as if somebody called 911.

Witnesses told the Toronto Sun workers were seen heaving the interlocking concrete blocks apart with pry bars, while a large telehandler forklift stood by to carry them out of the way.

They only managed to clear one of the blocks before police put a stop to it, leaving a second block resting on a pair of 4x4s and a variety of large pry bars discarded on the forks of the yellow telehandler.

Concrete blocks sit in front of the newly re-opened Harbord St. CAFE cannabis dispensary on Thursday after owners managed to move enough of the 2,000-kilogram barriers to regain access to the recently shut-down business.

Business was brisk at the re-opened Harbord St. location Thursday afternoon as patrons crammed the tiny dispensary to purchase cannabis at prices much lower than what’s available on government websites.

“It is without question that the OCS system and its subsequent rollout of cannabis retail in Ontario is flawed,” read a statement sent to the Toronto Sun by CAFE.

“It is also without question that Canadians support CAFE and how we’ve filled a necessary void.”

Concrete blocks are the latest attempt to prevent evicted budtenders from serving customers. Attempts by authorities to previously shut down the operations by bolting doors and changing locks have failed.

CAFE’s locations were raided by police last week, and the Fort York location was sealed with a steel door after two raids in April.

City bylaw officials did not respond to requests for comment.

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