Pot shop employees are shocked and “disgusted” in the wake of a Nanaimo RCMP raid of three medical marijuana dispensaries.
The Nanaimo RCMP executed search warrants at three dispensaries on Tuesday, close to three weeks after warning storefronts to close down or face potential enforcement.
The Nanaimo RCMP put 11 dispensaries on notice Nov. 12 that they had seven days to stop selling marijuana and marijuana derivatives or could be subject to enforcement, including the arrest of employees and patrons and seizure of “offence-related” property.
The RCMP say two storefronts have since closed. Action was taken on three dispensaries: Trees Dispensary, Phoenix Pain Management Society and Nature’s Source Society. It’s unknown what will happen to other dispensaries. The RCMP say the investigation is ongoing.
Anita Roy, manager of Trees Dispensary Nanaimo, is shocked by the police action. The dispensary closed only temporarily after being served the police notice in November. Roy said people were begging for their medicine and the storefront hadn’t shut down for a year and it was “OK,” so they thought, to carry on.
“Obviously we regret that we didn’t, at this point in time,” she said.
Roy says three employees were arrested.
“I wish it would have been me because innocent employees should not be arrested or harassed in this way,” said Roy. “I’m shocked that they would do this after all this time which is a whole year of operating.”
The Nanaimo RCMP issued a press release Tuesday as it executed the search warrants, claiming to have received several public complaints about illegal marijuana storefronts. Some, the press release said, were actively soliciting business by having sales people stand outside or waving signs to solicit customers. It also said there is no “legal mechanism” in Canada that allows for dispensaries or compassion clubs to sell or gift to the public.
“When I have reports of storefronts selling marijuana to youths and concerned community members approaching me about it, we are compelled to take enforcement action,” said RCMP Supt. Mark Fisher. “Our approach has always been to address public concerns, consult our contracting partners, stakeholders and allow for our investigations to determine the way forward. That was done in this case.”
Matthew O’Donnell, Nanaimo Cannabis Coalition spokesman and a board member for the Phoenix Pain Management Society, said two volunteers were arrested. He’s surprised, disgusted and angered.
He doesn’t know why the dispensary was singled out, but expects police will take all of the seized products.
Travis Lane, general manager for the Trees stores, said he’s not surprised the RCMP followed through on its warning, and that the dispensary is aware the drug hasn’t been removed from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act so it’s still illegal.
“Really they are free to do this if they want, it’s just the way that they’ve gone about it seems very non-Canadian, non-polite and non-compassionate,” said Lane, who is offended police would arrest “15-dollar-an-hour employees without contacting head office and asking us to come in.”
He told the News Bulletin the tentative plan was to re-open after police left.
The Nanaimo RCMP has not released any information on arrests.
— Chris Bush (@ChrisBushphotog) December 1, 2015