Pubdate: Wed, 05 Aug 2015
Source: Winnipeg Free Press (CN MB)
Copyright: 2015 Winnipeg Free Press
Author: Alexandra Paul
Page: A3


Follow Through on Warnings to Close Shop

TUESDAY'S police raid on a medical-marijuana store puts a spotlight 
on how differently Winnipeg is handling federal pot regulations 
compared with cities such as Vancouver, where there are dozens of 
dispensaries and politicians aim to regulate them.

Police arrested Glenn Price, his wife Sandra Price, and an unnamed 
client Tuesday morning at the fledgling Your Medical Cannabis 
Headquarters at 1404-A Main St.

As the day wore on, workers removed the shop's sign while police 
investigated inside the shop. The couple's daughter was frantic. "I 
have no idea what's going on. The police won't tell me anything," 
Stacie Price said after repeatedly calling police.

She last saw her father and a client, who were handcuffed, being led 
away during the 11 a.m. raid. Her mother was not in restraints. Price 
opened Winnipeg's first medical-marijuana dispensary on July 1 and 
quickly got more than 200 customers.

Police warned Price he risked being arrested for filling and selling 
prescriptions for pot without a federal licence.

On Tuesday, they made good on that threat, shutting down the 
dispensary and taking away the couple and their client.

By evening, however, Sandra Price and the client had both been 
reportedly released. Glenn Price remained in custody. Police refused 
to confirm any arrests, but issued a statement.

"Only licensed producers approved by Health Canada can produce and 
provide medical marijuana. Without this authorization, any person or 
business selling marijuana is committing a criminal offence under the 
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. The Winnipeg Police Service will 
investigate activities that appear to be in contravention of this act."

Two years ago, Ottawa tightened up regulations for the sale and 
distribution of medical marijuana, limiting licences to a 
pre-approved list of commercial growing operations.

There is only one company licensed in Manitoba, and it is not Price's store.

Winnipeg police spokesman Const. Rob Carver said police don't want 
the politics of medical marijuana to get in their way.

"The regulations around medical marijuana in this country are fairly 
clear from a policing standpoint.

"Under the (law), regardless of who the individual is or the 
political motivation, we were made aware of an alleged crime. We have 
to investigate. We don't get to pick and choose what we investigate 
as a policing agency," Carver said.

A local advocate for the use of medical marijuana said the situation 
is mixed up.

Bill Vandergraaf is a retired city police detective who promotes the 
movement against drug prohibition, specifically marijuana. He's also 
a licensed user of medical marijuana.

He said if pot were regulated like alcohol, the province would reap 
the benefits of revenue from taxes, and valuable police resources 
wouldn't be wasted on raids such as the one on Price's store, he said.

"I would not, nor would I ever, ask the police not to do their job. 
This is a matter of law, bad law, but law nonetheless," Vandergraaf said.

"It's unfortunate how this particular law is enforced. It's treated 
differently from one city to the next.

"Toronto and Vancouver have dispensaries. Vancouver has about 100 of 
them, and they're talking about regulating them. That's all we're 
asking for in Winnipeg. That's all Mr. Price has been asking for in 
Winnipeg," Vandergraaf said.

At least one city councillor - Mynarski Coun. Ross Eadie - has said 
the city should follow Vancouver's lead.

Vancouver-based Pamela McColl, who blew the whistle on Price's shop, 
contacted Mayor Brian Bowman's office and the police last month to 
file a complaint.

She said by allowing the storefront sale of medical marijuana, 
Winnipeg police weren't upholding the law.

Price is with Smart Approaches to Marijuana Canada.

"We support the government of the day that believes marijuana should 
not be legalized," McColl told the Free Press in July.

She said young people's lives are at risk from the "pot lobby" that's 
trying to legitimize its use.

Cannabis use is high among western youth and four times as powerful 
now than when she studied history - and inhaled - in her university 
days at the University of Manitoba, she said.

Meantime, Stacie Price said she was in the shop when police carried 
out their raid.

"They went into the dispensary and took my dad away in handcuffs. 
Then other officers went upstairs to my dad's apartment and got my mom.

"They asked everyone for ID. There was one patient here," she said.

The sight of uniformed officers crowding into the narrow storefront 
was unnerving, she said.

"There must have been 15 to 20 of them. It was an intimidation 
tactic. But you know what? My dad is passionate about what he's doing.

"He must have 200 (clients), and now they could end up on the street 
because where else can you buy medical marijuana?" she said.

The defiant tone echoed her father's statements to media last month 
when he staged a small rally outside the police headquarters.

He vowed to keep his shop open even though it meant the risk of being arrested.

"How far am I willing to go with this? (The) Supreme Court," Price said.

"I'm not going to be quiet about this. I'm going to go until they 
stop me. As far as I can go," he said.

Within weeks of the store opening, police showed up at the shop and 
asked Price to stop selling marijuana.
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