A visit from a fire inspector Monday sent a wave of paranoia washing over a London marijuana dispensary that’s already in the crosshairs of the police and the city’s bylaw office.
Staff at Healing Health Compassion on Dundas Street spent the day turning away a steady stream of customers, telling them the dispensary won’t be selling cannabis for the next few days.
The fire inspector’s pop-in comes just weeks after the city’s bylaw boss told The Free Press that his office has active enforcement files on London’s remaining pot shops.
A source said Healing Health had advance knowledge of Monday’s inspection and moved all of its product off site, fearing the visit signalled the beginning of a city-led crackdown.
Fire prevention inspector James Marshall was seen entering Smoking Essentials — a marijuana accessory shop that’s often confused with neighbouring Healing Health — about 11 a.m. He spent less than a minute in the store before walking down the plaza to Healing Health, where he was allowed in after ringing the buzzer.
The walk-through was prompted by a complaint, said Marshall, who stayed at the east-end plaza for a few hours.
No businesses were ordered to close after the inspection, he added.
Sunny Judge, who owns the plaza at 1472 Dundas St., confirmed there was an electrical issue at Healing Health.
City bylaw boss Orest Katolyk’s disclosure last month that his office has enforcement files on several city dispensaries led to speculation that London is taking a page out of Toronto’s playbook for dealing with pot shops that refuse to go away following police raids.
City officials in Toronto, home to nearly 150 dispensaries at its peak, have targeted landlords renting spaces to the illegal operations, warning the property owners they could face costly fines for violating zoning bylaws.
The strategy, combined with repeated police raids, has reduced the number of dispensaries to fewer than 50.
But Judge, who has owned the plaza for the last five years, said the city hasn’t ever contacted him about Healing Health.
Healing Health’s second location on Wonderland Road was closed Monday, though it’s listed online as being open seven days a week.
London police launched co-ordinated raids on five marijuana dispensaries on March 2, seizing $170,000 worth of cannabis products and laying a total of two dozen drug trafficking charges against eight people, all of them dispensary staff and owners.
Only a single pot shop, the London Compassion Society, was spared. Police have previously declined to say why the Oxford Street dispensary — the longest standing in the city — wasn’t included in the crackdown.
Following the spring raids, both Healing Health locations and Tasty Budd’s on Wharncliffe Road reopened.
The Chronic Hub on Dundas Street rebranded itself as delivery-only service, but it appears to be no longer in business.