Pubdate: Wed, 10 Jul 2013
Source: New West News Leader (CN BC)
Copyright: 2013 Black Press
Author: Grant Granger


While a lawyer for a medical marijuana dispensary says New Westminster
police wasted taxpayers money targeting his clients the mayor says the
city can't turn a blind eye to activity that's against the law.

Kirk Tousaw, a lawyer for the NICE (New Innovations in Cannabis
Education) Dispensary, which was run out of a storefront on 12th
Street, said police shouldn't be using their limited resources on
something the community and the country supports.

New Westminster police recommended charges against three people,
including Justin Cleveland, after raiding the dispensary in May. A CBC
report last week gave the details of a search warrant that was
obtained to proceed in the investigation following a tip to
Crimestoppers in May 2012. The report said police conducted three
undercover attempts before one was successful in revealing an alleged
crime. The first two unsuccessful attempts, Tousaw said, were
testament to the dispensary following proper procedures in providing
cannabis to those with a medical prescription.

"Most Canadians think police officers have better uses of their time
with limited resources than completing a lengthy investigation with
undercover officers to something that they announced publicly they
were going to be doing," said Tousaw.

He pointed out prior to opening its doors to customers, Cleveland went
to the West End Residents Association to tell them what the dispensary
was up to and found no opposition. In addition, it received support
from many residents glad to see a dispensary in their city instead of
having to go to Vancouver where police do not go after such
facilities, said Tousaw.

Mayor Wayne Wright, who is also chair of the city's police board, said
if the dispensaries are made legal "we'll be the first to support it"
but until then any illegal activity will be investigated.

"Anything that contravenes the law in the city of New Westminster
we're on it fairly quickly and to the letter of the law =C2=85 and the
reason we do that is so we don't have any grey areas," said Wright.

"We're not turning a blind eye to anything because it leads to turning
a blind eye to something else =C2=85 For a lawyer to suggest we don't
uphold the law, I'm surprised."

Wright said when Cleveland's West Coast Green Light Society approached
the city about setting up shop in New West they were told to stay away
until the law was changed, but they "blatantly went against" the advice.

"We didn't want them," said Wright.

Although the NWPD recommended the charges more than a month ago,
following a May 23 raid in which "a significant quantity of marijuana
and cash" was received according to police, the Crown has yet to
decide to prosecute.

Tousaw said in making that decision usually the Crown looks at whether
there's a substantial likelihood of conviction and if it is in the
public interest to pursue charges. In his opinion, neither is the case
in this instance.

Conviction is unlikely, he said, because previous cases have been
successfully challenged on constitutional grounds and because it also
violates common law.
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