Landlord to face penalty for housing illegal marijuana dispensaries

OTTAWA — The Ottawa police will be going after building owners who received rent from illegal dispensaries Ottawa Police Services (OPS) announced today (Aug. 27).

“Between the summer of 2016 and the winter of 2019, the OPS dealt with the proliferation of illegal marijuana dispensaries operating in the City of Ottawa,” the OPS released in a statement. “Building owners who were renting space to marijuana dispensary operators were issued a letter from the Ottawa police informing them dispensaries are illegal and their property could be subject to civil or criminal forfeiture. Owners were also reminded of the criminal activity and negative community impacts inherent with illegal dispensaries.”

One such property – 352 Preston St. – had been the location of two successive marijuana dispensaries operating between June 2016 and September 2018. As per all building owners who rented space to a marijuana dispensary, the owner of this building was provided with the letter in June 2016. Despite this, the owner continued to allow the illegal activity on his property.

“In consultation with the Ottawa Police’s Provincial Asset Forfeiture Unit, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada determined that the Crown would apply to restrain the property with a view to seek forfeiture based on the aforementioned facts and the significant amount of criminal activity associated to the dispensaries operating out of the Preston address,” the OPS said.

On Sept. 5, 2018, the Superior Court of Justice of Ontario ordered the restraint of the property. In the next few days, Cannalife closed and no dispensary has since operated out of the property.

On Aug. 20, Justice Peter Doody of Court of Justice ordered that 352 Preston St. was an offence-related property and the owner must forfeit a proportionate value of that property in the way of a significant sum in lieu of forfeiture of the property.

The proportionate value was determined, in part, by the fact only the main floor of the two-storey building was used in relation to criminality.

“The OPS believes this is an effective strategy for compliance of property owners who permit illegal marihuana dispensaries to operate out of their property,” said Insp. Carl Cartright, with the Ottawa Police Criminal Investigations Directorate. “We will continue to monitor this issue and will address any arising concerns from other Ottawa locations.”

Forfeiture of this nature is not being sought in relation to any other properties in Ottawa, at this time.