Pubdate: Thu, 24 Jul 2014
Source: Georgia Straight, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 The Georgia Straight
Author: Travis Lupick
Cited: VPD news release:


THE VANCOUVER POLICE Department has executed a warrant against 
another medicinal marijuana dispensary.

The raid on Jim's Weed Lounge at 882 East Hastings Street comes less 
than two months after a similar police action was carried out against 
a Weeds Glass and Gifts at 2580 Kingsway.

Jim Harrison, a board member of Jim's Weed Lounge, told the Straight 
that between eight and 12 members of the VPD drug squad showed up 
around noon today (July 24).

"They said they had a warrant," Harrison recounted in a telephone 
interview. "They came in here and just took all the money, all the 
pot-the medicine-and they left."

He said that police confiscated all marijuana on the premises as well 
as money, computers, and mobile phones.

There are more than 40 similar marijuana dispensaries currently 
operating in Vancouver.

Harrison said that police wouldn't answer questions about why their 
shop was selected for police action.

"As a matter of fact, the police were in last week and they said they 
just wanted to come in and see how things were," he continued. "We 
told them we were totally transparent and running things that 
way....But today they said they had a warrant because we were 
trafficking. But everybody in here has a federal licence."

According to a July 24 news release, the marijuana dispensary in 
question was selected for police action "after police received 
reports that marihuana was allegedly being bought at the store and 
sold to youth in the surrounding neighbourhood".

It's stated there that no arrests were made during the raid and that 
an investigation is ongoing.

While medicinal marijuana dispensaries technically operate in 
violation of federal law, the VPD has long said publicly that it does 
not consider storefront marijuana shops a priority.

In a telephone interview, a spokesperson for the VPD further 
explained why Jim's Weed Lounge was targeted while dozens of similar 
shops in Vancouver continue to sell marijuana.

"There are allegations that people were going into that store, buying 
marijuana, and then going out of the store and selling it to young 
people-kids and youth-in that neighbourhood," said Sergeant Randy 
Fincham. "That's definitely something that brought it to our attention."

In a June 2014 interview with the Straight, VPD Const. Brian Montague 
noted that it is unusual for the Vancouver police to conduct an 
operation against a marijuana dispensary.

Before the June 23 raid against Weeds on Kingsway, the last time that 
such an enforcement action occurred was October 2013, he said. And 
before that, it was as far back as "2011 or early-2012" that the 
Vancouver police busted a marijuana dispensary.

Today's news release goes on to provide some information about how 
Vancouver police are exercising enforcement actions against outlets 
selling marijuana.

"The VPD will continue to respond to any complaints about illegal 
marijuana use and sales and decide if further investigation or 
enforcement action is required," it reads. "Our priority remains 
focusing on violent drug traffickers and those who prey on youth, the 
marginalized or the drug addicted."

It continues: "Our frontline officers will continue to use discretion 
enforcing the possession and consumption of marijuana under federal 
law. Options include criminal charges, seizures and violation tickets 
for smoking under the city bylaws."
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