Two raids and closures of two new medical marijuana dispensaries took place this week in British Columbia, with reports from Chilliwack and Campbell River.
Trees Dispensary at 1950 14th, Campbell River, on Vancouver Island, just opened on Saturday April second and was raided by the RCMP today at 2pm. Ben Hinton, the branch manager was arrested and released without charge. According to Alexander Robb, Community Liaison for the dispensary, the RCMP visited the store yesterday in uniform to look around, and indicated to the manager that the dispensary was illegal.
The RCMP confiscated dried cannabis and concentrates, but not any edible products. Robb believes this is due to the R v Smith Supreme Court ruling last year stating patients have a right to use cannabis in any form.
“Leaving the edibles on the shelves was a message the RCMP do not want to obstruct patient’s access to the medicine that is most effective for relieving their pain and allowing them to sleep at night," said Robb in a press release. "I think this is an acknowledgement by the RCMP that access to edible marijuana products is fundamental to patients’ rights to effective medicine.”
Trees has four other locations, one in Victoria and one in Nanaimo. The Nanaimo business, along with two other dispensaries were raided Dec 1, 2015, with three Trees employees arrested. They re-opened just three days later.
According to Robb, the three employees arrested have recently had the charges stayed, with the RCMP no longer pursuing charges at this time. The new Campbell River location was an effort to help meet the demands of many of their customers who Robb said were driving several hours from the Campbell River area to their Nanaimo location.
"The Comox Valley, Courtney and Campbell River have a history of being hard on marijuana advocates," says Robb. "It's my impression that they wanted to close our store down before any others open. The reason why we did open the store is we have many people who come to our Nanaimo store from the North Island."
"We took a small risk in opening it, but we did know we had membership already, and there was a commercial landlord who wanted to work with us."
Another raid took place yesterday in Chilliwack BC at WeeMedical, which had only opened last month. The manager was arrested by the RCMP and then later released, and the city issued the business a 'no occupancy notice', with fines of $1,000 a day levied to the society behind the dispensary, and $500 a day each to the building's two owners.
WeeMedical also has a dispensary in Campbell River, although it was not raided. In addition to Chilliwack and Campbell River, the chain has locations in Nanaimo, Sechelt, North Vancouver and Port Alberni.
Earlier this year, another BC municipality, Abottsford, relied upon a BC Supreme Court to issue an injunction to close a dispensary in their city limits.
While seeking to issue business licenses to a handful of dispensaries, the City of Vancouver has also stated they could use similar municipal bylaw measures as well as criminal charges to deal with unlicensed dispensaries within their city.
The RCMP issued a statement re-emphasizing that dispensaries are not legal and those in violation of the CDSA could face investigation and criminal charges
Campbell River RCMP is continuing their investigation under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act. At this time no charges have been laid. A thorough assessment of evidence will be completed and reported to Federal Crown Counsel for consideration of any charges said Cst. Sara Clark.
The Federal government has promised to legalize marijuana for non medical use, although no changes in the current law have yet to be announced.
Featured image via the chilliwacktimes.com