Downtown coffee house busted for pot

By chillinwill · Nov 21, 2008 · ·
  1. chillinwill
    Toronto police raided a popular downtown coffee house frequented by medical marijuana users and other cannabis-smoking patrons.

    More than a dozen officers converged on Kindred Cafe, on Breadalbane St., near Yonge St. and Wellesley Ave., about 7 p.m. Thursday.

    Two people were taken into custody and four others were issued summonses for trafficking and possession of marijuana before police began removing furniture, electronic equipment, coffee machines and paraphernalia used to smoke.

    A group of activists gathered outside as police loaded a five-tonne truck and carted away many of the cafe's contents.

    The three-storey building has a restaurant on the main floor, lounges on the second floor and a rooftop patio with propane heaters and a canopy where patrons can legally smoke outside. It has been in business since 2000 and sells free-trade coffee beans and pastries, some allegedly laced with cannabis.

    "They don't sell any cannabis in this establishment," said an angry Matt Mernaugh, an activist and registered medical marijuana user, who arrived as the police raid was underway.

    He was searched by officers and turned away.

    "This is just a place for people who use medical marijuana to socialize," he added.

    Henry Stancu
    staff reporter
    Nov 20, 2008 10:43 PM
    The Star

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  1. Euphoric

    Kindred apathy for T.O. dope café

    Nov 22, 2008 04:30 AM

    Rosie DiManno

    I cannot stand the odour of cannabis. That's probably a good thing, for an addictive personality, having a built-in aversion to certain drugs.

    Also, dope makes me staggeringly stupid.

    A few years ago I was sent to Amsterdam, the assignment an analysis of Holland's liberal drug laws, at a time when Canada was again looking at loosening our own "soft drugs" legislation. Strictly for the purpose of research, I wandered from one drug café to another, sampling the menu: hash oil, slimly rolled joints, laced brownies.

    It took three days before I could recover enough to write a story. And my notes were illegible.

    The phone conversations with my editor went something like this:

    He: "Are you filing today, Rosie?"

    Me: "Whaa? Huh?"

    Strictly beer for the rest of my stay, though decent alcohol-only establishments were not so thick on the ground downtown.

    Yesterday, Amsterdam's mayor announced the city will close almost a fifth of its marijuana cafés to comply with a national ban on having them near schools.

    In Toronto, I've occasionally been to the Kindred Café on Breadalbane St., simply to smoke a cigarette – horrors! – unmolested, up on the patio roof.

    Bong decor is not my thing, either, and the place was too mellow and laid-back and anachronistically hippie-dippy, a venue of contact inertia. Most chronic dope-smokers of my acquaintance are dull-witted, poor conversationalists and prone to giggling at bad jokes. Harmless, though.

    The Kindred Café – busted in a drug raid Thursday evening – has been particularly popular with registered medical marijuana users, those actually issued with Health Canada cards designating their status. Café membership is required and drugs are not allowed to be sold on the premises, though cannabis can be smoked outside, by cardholders.

    Once, signed into the café by an acquaintance in possession of a registered card, I finally got around to asking what his medical condition was, though uncomfortable about prying. Depression, he reluctantly admitted.

    This was startling. Not to minimize the impact of depression or anything, but if recurrent melancholia is an accepted malady for obtaining otherwise illicit drugs legally, then I should be smoking crack.

    According to the Health Canada website, there are two categories of people who can apply to possess marijuana for medical purposes: Those being treated for symptoms within the context of compassionate end-of-life care or symptoms associated with specified medical conditions, including severe pain and/or muscle spasms from multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury or disease; severe pain and other symptoms related to cancer, HIV/AIDS infection, arthritis and epileptic seizures.

    The second category applies to "applicants" who have debilitating symptom(s) resulting from a medical condition other than those outlined above, "if a specialist confirms the diagnosis and that conventional treatments have failed or judged inappropriate to relieve symptoms of the medical condition."

    While assessment of the applicant's case by a specialist is required, the treating physician, "whether or not a specialist," can sign the medical declaration.

    At the Kindred Café, police allege, medical authorization among patrons had little to do with a lively business.

    "They were just selling to anybody," Staff Insp. John Tanouye, of the Toronto drug squad, told the Star. "All you had to do was buy a one-day membership, I think for $20."

    According to police, the café was serving drug-laced hot chocolate, milkshakes and baked goods. Cops seized electronic equipment, coffee machines, drug paraphernalia and about $2,000 in cash. Six people were charged (only two taken into custody) with trafficking and possession for the purpose of trafficking.

    Marijuana activists are up in arms.

    Or maybe lying on a couch in the basement, watching The Simpsons (reruns) and eating Cheezies.


    Also related:

    [h3]Cafe busted for selling pot[/h3]
    Staff charged with trafficking, patrons with possession
    Last Updated: 22nd November 2008, 3:58am

    The owners of the Kindred Cafe said yesterday they intend to fight police allegations they were selling pot-laced milkshakes, hot chocolate and baked goods.

    The Breadalbane St. coffee shop was closed yesterday as workers cleaned up after a police raid late Thursday. They said expensive furniture, plasma TVs, tables and chairs were carted away.

    Two club employees were charged with trafficking and five patrons for possession of marijuana, police said. The accused are scheduled for court appearances next week.

    Const. Tony Vella alleged undercover officers purchased marijuana-laced milkshakes, hot chocolates and baked goods inside the club.

    "Officers observed patrons consuming marijuana in a back room," Vella added. "This investigation stemmed from complaints from the community."

    He said several thousand dollars were also seized under proceeds of crime laws.

    "These types of businesses are illegal," Vella said. "It is an infraction of the Criminal Code to possess or sell marijuana ..."

    Cafe spokesman Chad Cooke, 38, said the popular club sells organic fair-trade coffee.

    He said patrons can bring joints and light up in a tent on the roof. He said many, like him, suffer from ailments and have permits to use marijuana for medical reasons.

    "A lot of our customers are medical users," he said. "The atmosphere in here is controlled and safe."

    Cooke said customers can use marijuana at his club, but they can't buy it. "We don't sell marijuana," he said. "Other people can bring and use it in here."

    "We have been here for three years and there has never been a problem."
  2. Euphoric
    Also related (and there is a video of the protest if you click the link for either article):

    Pot café owner to turn himself in

    Medical marijuana supporters to rally today
    Nov 24, 2008 04:30 AM
    Susan Walker
    Staff Reporter

    Dominic Cramer, owner of the coffee shop raided by Toronto police last week on suspicion of marijuana trafficking, will turn himself in at 52 Division this evening, says his lawyer, Alan Young.

    Cramer is expected to attend a bail hearing at Old City Hall tomorrow morning.

    The Kindred Café, frequented by medical marijuana users and other pot-smoking customers, has never been raided before and Cramer has no criminal record. Young said he did not know what charges would be laid.

    "To the best of my knowledge it's a case about edibles that allegedly involved marijuana," Young said.

    Cramer, in his mid-30s, was not present last Thursday evening when more than a dozen officers descended on the three-storey café located on Breadalbane St. near Yonge and Wellesley Sts. They issued a warrant for his arrest.

    Police seized most of the cafe's furniture and equipment and took two people into custody.

    Customers who are not legally cleared to smoke marijuana for medical purposes may use the premises to smoke dope, but they bring their own supply. "Anyone found trafficking would be immediately ejected," says Chad Cooke, a spokesperson for the café and a user with a federal exemption for medical use.

    The Kindred Café occupies a Yonge/Wellesley neighbourhood known as Yongesterdam (in reference to Amsterdam, where marijuana use is legal) for its cluster of businesses catering to cannabis users.

    Kindred's customers can purchase a day pass or longer-term membership to rent time in private rooms or they can use a rooftop patio where smoking is allowed.

    This morning at 8 a.m. an hour-long rally in front of Old City Hall at Bay and Queen Sts. was expected to draw a good-sized crowd in support of Cramer and the rights of medically exempt cannabis users.

    "It's going to be very peaceful," Cooke said. "There is no antagonism toward the police."

    The police cited community complaints as the reason for the raid.

    The café has been closed since the raid but is expected to reopen this week. Cramer has been operating Kindred Café for three years.

    And another:

    Activists protest pot café bust

    Nov 24, 2008 12:00 PM
    Paola Loriggio
    Staff Reporter

    A small group of pot activists lit up on the steps of Old City Hall this morning to protest against last week's police raid on the Kindred Café, a local hangout for medicinal and recreational marijuana smokers.

    "We're here, we're high, get used to it," chanted the group of about 20 people, some waving flags emblazoned with the marijuana leaf, others crowned with wreaths of bright green foliage.

    The early morning rally aimed to show support for the Kindred's owner, Dominic Cramer, who plans to turn himself in to police this evening, according to his lawyer, Alan Young.

    Cramer wasn't present when police raided the three-storey café Thursday evening on suspicion of marijuana trafficking, seizing furniture and equipment and taking two people into custody. It's unclear at this time what charges will be laid.

    Police cited community complaints as the reason for the raid.

    Cramer, who doesn't have a criminal record, is expected in court tomorrow morning for a bail hearing. Outside the courthouse this morning, his fans pledged to return for the hearing, this time without the weed.

    "We're not going to let them take us one by one," Matt Mernagh said into a loudspeaker, a lit joint in his other hand. Mernagh, who smokes up to 10 grams of pot each day to relieve the pain of scoliosis, spent nearly two weeks in jail this summer after Toronto police found marijuana plants on his balcony. The charges were dropped last week, he said.

    He said the protest was about the "greater issue" of marijuana regulation, but that all present were patrons of the Kindred Café, one of the few places where medicinal users could smoke and socialize.

    Chad Cooke, spokesperson for the café, said Cramer appreciates the support, but doesn't condone the rally.

    "Right now, he's dealing with this challenge (of turning himself in). Afterwards, maybe we can deal with the larger issue," Cooke said as he watched the activists this morning.

    The Kindred closed after the raid, but should reopen sometime this week. Customers will still be allowed to smoke pot on the rooftop patio, Cooke said.

    "We will reopen and provide that service for people,"he said, stressing that the café is strictly bring-your-own, with no sales of marijuana allowed on site.

    The Kindred Café, on Breadalbane St. near Yonge and Wellesley Sts, is one of a handful of businesses catering to cannabis users. Customers can purchase a day pass or longer-term membership to rent time in private rooms or they can use a rooftop patio where smoking is allowed.
  3. Heretic.Ape.
    Methinks Rosi DeManno is a rather snide ignorant bitch. Just my opinion though. Shame about the establishment.
  4. gplant
    Activists protest pot café bust

    A new entry has been added to File Archive

    A small group of pot activists lit up on the steps of Old City Hall this morning to protest against last week's police raid on the Kindred Café, a local hangout for medicinal and recreational marijuana smokers.

    To check it out, rate it or add comments, visit Activists protest pot café bust
    The comments you make there will appear in the posts below.
  5. dyingtomorrow
    Yeah. I read through everything, and the thing that I most took away was that the lady who wrote that crappy article is a fucking asshole. Glad to see I'm not the only one.
  6. Milk man
    I'm glad we are all getting the same impression. Maybe her boss does too. She says she has an addictive personality so that is why she doesn't want to smoke, but then she states that she will just drink alcohol.
  7. Euphoric

    Law or no, these joints are smokin' in the city

    Marijuana activist Matt Mernagh likes to show off Toronto's cannabis community, which he considers one of its untapped tourist attractions
    Jan 01, 2009 04:30 AM

    When police raided the Kindred Café Nov. 20 for allegedly trafficking marijuana, it shone a spotlight on one of the city's biggest open secrets.

    There are places where you can smoke weed with relative impunity, provided you don't make a scene.

    With a couple of well-known pot cafés and a smattering of private smokers' clubs – not to mention a thriving network of bong shops and hemp stores – Toronto's marijuana scene rivals Vancouver's, according to some herb aficionados.

    Most of the action centres on "Yongesterdam," a strip of Yonge St. near Wellesley St. nicknamed after pot-friendly Amsterdam.

    Each summer, pot activist Matt Mernagh leads a weekly tour of the area's cannabis community, showing off what he considers one of the city's untapped tourist attractions.

    The tour starts at Vapor Central, a vaporizer store and "tester lounge," then on to various seed and hemp stores. If the group feels particularly energetic, Mernagh says, they'll hit the Hot Box Café in Kensington Market, famous for its backyard "potio."

    The café is among a handful of establishments in the city that allow customers to smoke weed, though owner Abi Roach stresses they don't sell it in any form.

    Another is the Kindred, on Breadalbane St., which reopened days after its owner, Dominic Cramer, turned himself in to police on Nov. 24. Cramer is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 13.

    Both the Hot Box and the Kindred regulate pot smoking on the premises, limiting it to adults in specific areas. But despite the Kindred's official mission to host medicinal marijuana use, neither venue requires customers to show their government-issued licences.

    Which makes it technically illegal, as indicated in the cafés and on their websites. So how come they still exist?

    Police rely heavily on complaints, so if no one complains about a particular spot, it may never be discovered, said Det. Sgt. Paul MacIntyre of the Toronto Police drug squad.

    Once officers become aware of such a place, they have to investigate – and arrest anyone found to possess marijuana, he said. But that doesn't mean the venue will close.

    "If the people who own the business aren't involved in the sale or distribution of drugs, they won't be charged," MacIntyre said. At the homey three-year-old Kindred, business has fallen by about a third since the raid, said spokesperson Chad Cooke.

    Its main floor, where marijuana smoking is not permitted, was empty early on a recent Friday evening. So was its stylish second-floor private room, appointed with flat-screen TVs, DVDs and vaporizers.

    On its tented rooftop third floor, where smokers can congregate for a fee of $5 – $2.50 for people with medical exemptions – three patrons sat quietly on the folding chairs Cooke bought after the police took the café's furniture. "We're not quite as busy as we were before," he said. "I'm sure some people are a little apprehensive about coming, not knowing exactly what the climate's going to be or if the police are going to come back."

    Lawyer Alan Young, who represents Cramer and the Kindred, says police often turn a blind eye when it comes to recreational tokers.

    "The sole reason these cafés can operate with some degree of impunity is that marijuana possession is one of the lowest priorities with police," Young said.

    Though federal law doesn't specify where licensed users can and can't light up, they receive an information package warning them not to smoke in a public place or expose others to second-hand smoke, Heath Canada spokesperson Philippe Laroche said in an email.

    But there's little health inspectors can do, since the province's smoking ban applies only to tobacco products, said Rob Colvin, spokesperson for Toronto Public Health.

    Mernagh says tourists are often shocked and amazed to see others openly flouting marijuana laws inside a coffee shop or store.

    "People like us because we're so out of the cannabis closet."

    With files from Daniel Dale
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