One person charged after raid at Montreal magic mushroom shop; owner vows to reopen
One person arrested during a police raid on an illegal magic mushroom shop in Montreal has been charged with drug trafficking.
The Crown prosecutor's office confirmed to CTV News that the accused appeared in court Wednesday afternoon and was charged with one count of trafficking a substance under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
Several police officers descended on the FunGuyz shop hours after the company opened their first Quebec location Tuesday in Montreal's Sainte-Marie neighbourhood. Four people were arrested, according to police, who say their investigation into the dispensary is ongoing.
The chain sells products containing the hallucinogen psilocybin, which is illegal in Canada.
A spokesperson for the store, Edgar Gorbans, who has spelled his name in different ways for various media, vowed to reopen despite the police crackdown, but that didn't end up happening. Instead, the store is now expected to open its doors Thursday morning, as soon as their window stickers are re-printed "out of respect for children in the neighbourhood."
Gorbans said FunGuyz employees are aware of the risks and are "fighting the currents as they come."
"We have lawyers in place for these instances and we take care of lawyer fees for our workers," he said, adding that the workers believe in the company's mission.
Despite this, FunGuyz appears to be in full expansion mode. It has 11 other stores in Ontario, including some that have also been raided by police. The owners say they want to end up in court so they can argue in favour of legalizing psilocybin.
"The fastest way to do it unfortunately is not through the regulatory body, it's actually through the justice system," Gorbans said.
It's a tactic used in the past, from the fight to legalize cannabis to the fight for the right to abortion.
But lawyer Frederic Berard says there's a simpler way that doesn't risk jail time.
"They hire a good lawyer, and what the lawyer does is easy, to depose some kind of procedure asking the court to declare that this or that section of the Criminal Code is unconstitutional," said Berard, a partner at the Montreal law firm, Gattuso Bouchard Mazzone.
He admitted, however, that method won't bring as much attention to their cause, or their stores.
"Everyone talks about them in town right now, here in Quebec and Ontario, and they're making a ton of money out of it," he said.
POLICE KEEPING AN EYE ON STORE
Following the raid, Montreal Police Chief Fady Dagher said the force is keeping an eye on it.
"For me, as long as it's illegal, there's no way I'm going to be able to tolerate [it]. And I saw what he said, going to keep opening, all that. We'll see in the future," Dagher told CTV News on Wednesday.
In the meantime, Gorbans said they plan to take their fight "to the very end."