Welcome to Toronto’s marijuana scene mostly happening on “Yongesterdam” in quaint little smoker clubs people will be trying out a new pipe at a hemp store to relax. As long as there isn’t a scene there’s no need for ID or the police.
Vancouver has a thriving pot scene but Toronto is starting to rival the hip town of Canada. These smoker’s club stayed under the radar of the mainstream until police raided Kindred Cafe on November 20 for allegedly trafficking marijuana. The Kindred’s owner, Dominic Cramer, will face the judge on January 13.
Those in the know have no trouble locating the areas in Toronto that are pot-friendly. Each summer Matt Mernagh, a pot activist, leads a weekly tour to bring others up to speed about the cannabis community.
Starting at Vapor Central the tour goes through various seed and hemp stores ending for those energetic enough to make the trek to Hot Box Cafe in Kensington Market, home of the famous backyard ‘potio.’
While owner Abi Roach doesn’t sell weed it does allow its customers to smoke. The Hot Box and the Kindred regulate those toking on their premises. It’s an adult only activity in designated areas. The Kindred’s mission on the letterhead is to host medicinal marijuana use. That doesn’t mean that it requires customers to show their government-issued licenses.
These establishments are illegal but operating in the public eye. The police tend not to crack down on places that don’t have any complaints flowing out. Det. Sgt. Paul MacIntyre of the Toronto Police drug squad says unless there are complaints these places go unnoticed by the police. Once an officer is aware of a free toking place they have to investigate and arrest anyone found there that has pot on their person. That doesn’t mean that the venue will be closed.
As the Star reports:
“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.
For those with marijuana licenses because of medical reasons there are no federal laws where not to light up a joint. An information package is sent to license holders but it only warns about smoking in public areas and the dangers of second hand smoke.
It’s illegal to smoke tobacco in an enclosed business but marijuana isn’t tobacco and that loophole changes things.
Tour guide Menagh says that he sees shocked tourists amazed at the marjuana laws being broken in coffee shops or stores.