We’ve been called “Hamsterdam” and the pot capital of the province but why did the city become a cannabis haven?
Despite the province telling illegal pot shops to shut down if they have any hope of getting a legal license one day, over 30 remain open in Hamilton and police say the demand here is high and for the owners there’s a lot to gain.
Like Britney Guerra, former owner of Cannabis Culture.
“In this industry there’s a large profit. Myself, my highest days of sales I made $85 000 in just one day.”
Guerra passed pot around city council to show the difference between a legal product that’s properly sealed and what you get at an illegal shop. One unknown franchise is said to have made $40 million in illicit pot sales since illegally operating in the city.
“We are committed to closing down these dispensaries and we will. We are committed to combating organized crime.” Dan Kinsella, Hamilton police.
Police have raided dozens of stores and many closed on their own with the hope of getting a legal license, but over 30 remain open for business.
Drawing up and executing a search warrant isn’t cheap. Each one takes 130 hours of police work. Hamilton Police have spent over $500,000 so far.
In many cases, the shops are back open for business the next day. Police say 85% of the people arrested in these illegal shops went to court and were released on a peace bond.
At the height of pot shops in the city there were more than 80 in operation. People in the industry say cannabis users would come from as far as Windsor to buy their pot in the city and Hamilton became the cannabis capital of the province.
Under the new laws, criminals working in illegal shops can face $250 000 in fines and prison time. The owners or corporations face fines up to a million dollars for the first offence. Police say 25 people will be coming before the courts in the new year to face these new penalties. Police and the city are anxiously waiting to see how the courts will handle these cases and if they will set an example to deter illegal dispensaries in the city.