The City of Toronto squared off last week in court against a chain of illegal marijuana dispensaries (“Canna Clinic”) and their owners in a bid to shut the stores down once and for all.
The City sought an interim and interlocutory injunction restraining Canna Clinic and its owners from, among other things, using the properties from which they operate to sell, store or distribute marijuana.
The City’s application was brought under section 380 of the City of Toronto Act, 2006 which allows the City to bring an application to restrain any conduct which contravenes a city by-law. In this particular case, the City asserted that Canna Clinic operated in contravention of one of the City’s zoning by-laws given that the use of any property in the City as a “marijuana dispensary” is not a permitted use under the zoning by-law and is therefore a breach of the by-law.
Canna Clinic brought its own application at the same time for an interlocutory injunction to restrain, suspend, exempt from, and stay enforcement of the by-law and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act on the basis that those laws are unconstitutional. Interestingly, Canna Clinic only sought an interlocutory exemption from those laws. It did not seek to prevent the laws from being enforced against other cannabis dispensaries (i.e. their competition).
Canna Clinic argued that the existing laws violate the s.7 Charter rights of individuals in need of cannabis for medical purposes in two respects: their right to liberty and their right to security of the person. With respect to liberty, Canna Clinic argued that a prohibition on dispensaries restricts access to medical care and therefore infringes the right. With respect to security of the person, Canna Clinic argued that a prohibition on dispensaries impedes access to cannabis by those who need it for medical reasons and thus violates their security of the person.
The City’s application was supported by the Attorney General of Canada.
The Application Judge reserved her decision at the conclusion of argument. No word on how long it will be until the decision is released.