Two Canadian marijuana dispensary chains have moved into Ottawa, opening three stores and planning for expansion. Stittsville is also about to get a marijuana dispensary, bringing the total of store-front businesses illegally selling marijuana to six. The Ottawa stores all cater to medical marijuana patients, the newest shop, Green Tree Medical Dispensary, selling a selection of dried buds, cookies, candy, and marijuana-infused drinks on display.

While medical marijuana is legal in Canada, it is only for patients that have a doctor’s prescription who purchase it from growers licensed by Health Canada, and receive the medicine through registered mail. Ottawa Police is aware of the dispensaries but is not saying what will be done about them. “We are aware of their locations, and we are looking into the matter,” said spokesman Const. Chuck Benoit.

Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury said they are closely monitoring the situation in Toronto, which cracked down on the businesses soon after Mayor John Tory said he held concern about marijuana shops popping up throughout the city. Since then, Toronto police have raided 47 dispensaries in the last six weeks. A particularly major raid in May left 90 people arrested, 186 charges of possession of marijuana for trafficking purposes and 71 crime charges. City bylaw officers also laid 79 charges for zoning violations and selling food without a license.

As a result, the federal government of Canada has promised to legalize and “strictly regulate” recreational marijuana. Drug laws remain in force, warned a recent statement from the ministers of Justice, Health, and Public Safety. “The possession, production, and trafficking of marijuana remain illegal. This includes storefronts selling marijuana, commonly known as ‘dispensaries’ and ‘compassion clubs.” These marijuana dispensaries are illegally supplied and are providing untested, unregulated products that may be unsafe. Despite the fact, new dispensaries continue to open throughout Canada’s major cities.

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