The owners of Goodweeds Lounge, a newly opened recreational pot bar in Toronto's east end, have been charged with multiple trafficking and possession-related offenses following a police raid that took place Thursday evening. Chris and Erin Goodwin opened up the vapor lounge a few weeks ago where customers can purchase dabs and bong hits on site as long as they're aged 18 and older. No medical prescription is necessary.
But Toronto police confirmed they executed a search warrant at the venue, located at 940 Danforth Avenue, under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act on Thursday evening. Both owners are facing charges of possession for the purpose (of trafficking), marijuana; possession for the purpose, cannabis resin; and possession of proceeds of crime. Erin Goodwin has additionally been charged with possession of marijuana. The shop's windows are currently papered over. A police spokeswoman told VICE the investigation was prompted by a complaint in the community. The couple was scheduled to make a first appearance in court Friday.
Longtime pot activist Jamie McConnell was at Goodweeds when the raid took place; he was due to start working there as a manager today. He told VICE at around 5 PM, a dozen cops—half in uniform and the other half from the drug squad—entered the store.
Chris saw the plainclothes officers first, according to McConnell, and assumed they were patrons."Chris said, 'Five dollars, guys.' And Erin said, 'They're cops.' They came around the bar and me, Chris, and Erin were put in handcuffs," he said. Around 15 to 20 customers were there at the time. The cops spoke to them, "I guess to lecture them on the evils of weed," said McConnell, and then let them go.
McConnell said immediately after entering, the cops shut down the security cameras in the store. He said they referred to another raid they'd been filmed conducting. The officers pressed Chris Goodwin to admit the shop was illegal, according to McConnell, even referring to a recent segment on Daily VICE. "They said, 'You said it's illegal on the VICE video,'" he said. "I heard them say to Chris, 'Is there any big safe or anything? Where are the drugs, we don't want to tear the place apart.''"
He witnessed them confiscate two vacuum-sealed bags of shatter. McConnell said the officers were "reasonable" considering that the raid was a "complete waste of resources."
Reached by phone Friday, Goodweeds co-owner Don Briere said the raid amounts to "willful blindness."
"The cannabis wars that have been raging for 60 to 70 years are now over, as declared by the government. We'd like to know what's going on," he said. He added that lawyers will be getting involved and that he thinks the charges will be dropped. "They're going to make a big squawk about it it and do all kinds of stuff and as time rolls along it's going to be dropped."
McConnell said activists know how to play the system and that's what he expects the Goodwins to do in this case. "I don't see them making plea deals. Just expect a bunch of remands and lawyers and firings," he said. "I would not be in front of a judge until it's legal."
Both men said they hope the shop will be up and running soon.
By Manisha Krishnan - Vice/Jan. 22, 2016
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Canada's First Legal Weed Shop Closed, and the Owners Arrested