Pubdate: Tue, 17 Nov 2015
Source: Nanaimo News Bulletin (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015, BC Newspaper Group
Author: Tamara Cunningham


Medical marijuana dispensary managers plan a united front and appeals 
to government in the wake of an ultimatum from the Nanaimo RCMP to 
shut down shop or face arrests.

The Nanaimo RCMP put 10 medical marijuana dispensaries on notice 
Thursday that they had seven days to stop the sale of marijuana and 
marijuana derivatives or they could be subject to police enforcement.

Medical marijuana shops have been growing in number in Nanaimo, 
selling bud, tinctures and marijuana-infused brownies.

Written notice, given to dispensaries by the RCMP, advises the 
establishments that they are operating illegally and are trafficking 
cannabis contrary to the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and 
operating outside of Health Canada regulations. If the pot shops 
don't close, they will be subject to enforcement that includes 
arrests of employees and patrons, seizure of "offence-related" 
property and criminal prosecutions.

The recent police action is related to an ongoing commitment to 
public safety, according to an e-mail response from Nanaimo RCMP 
spokesman Const. Gary O'Brien. It's important the RCMP's position is 
made "very clear," and police have notified businesses in person of 
the ramifications if illegal activity is detected, he said.

Medical marijuana dispensary managers say they were crushed and 
blindsided by the notice. Dispensary representatives, suppliers and 
customers met Thursday evening to explore next steps, with some 
suggesting a united front, an appeal to licensed patients to speak on 
the behalf of dispensaries and to write Nanaimo city council.

The group planned to attend a council meeting Monday and will hold a 
rally at city hall Wednesday (Nov. 18).

"I haven't stopped crying all day," said Brandy Cavanagh, general 
manager of Mid-Island Health and Wellness Association, who says it's 
like closing a pharmacy because people rely on the dispensary that much.

The association serves 1,000 people, who seek CBD (cannabidiol) 
products, ointment and marijuana.

Cavanagh says she sees smiles and has received phone calls from 
people who've said they finally got a good night's sleep, or that 
their mother, who has cancer, was able to eat because she vaporized a 
little bit.

"We are not bad people. We are not doing any harm," she said.

Richard Scott, manager of Nature's Source Society, hosted the meeting 
with other dispensaries and said he's a bit shocked because so many 
dispensaries have been operating with no problem for quite some time, 
some for a couple of years. He said the shops will protest the police 
action, but whether they will all stay open is something that will be 
decided as a community.

Travis Lane, general manager of all Trees dispensaries on Vancouver 
Island, including Nanaimo, told the News Bulletin his company might 
respect the RCMP decision in some way, perhaps even locking its doors 
and handing out pamphlets to ask people to write their local MLA. But 
he also wants to consider the political climate.

"If we find that all the politics is positive and the RCMP are the 
only ones that want to do anything about it, I don't think the RCMP 
will have the backing to do something," said Lane. "It's not their 
fault that it's still illegal, but at the same if we can get the 
people that are their bosses, the people that call their shots, on 
our side then the threat disappears."

O'Brien said the RCMP is taking a wait-and-see approach and couldn't 
say what will happen after the seven days' notice.

MLA speaks in favour of access to marijuana

With a federal government committed to legalization, the Nanaimo RCMP 
may want to consider waiting for further direction, says 
Nanaimo-North Cowichan NDP MLA, Doug Routley, who's called for the 
immediate repeal of an order against medical marijuana dispensaries.

Routley says constituents have asked him for help, feeling as though 
their jobs and access to medicine are threatened after the Nanaimo 
RCMP delivered 10 notices to local medical marijuana dispensaries, 
ordering them to shut down in seven days or face enforcement.

He's also taken to social media to express his views on the notice of 

In an e-mail to the News Bulletin, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman Gary 
O'Brien said it's important the RCMP ensure individuals and 
businesses are fully aware of the business regulations, legislation 
and expectations moving forward.

Routley said he understands the RCMP is in a difficult place with the 
law, court rulings and regulations not brought together in a 
"workable way" for patients or law enforcement, but he also believes 
a sensible approach would be to wait for action from the new federal 

"I am not able to act, obviously in the federal parliament, but I can 
make a request to the local RCMP to recognize that if you look at 
this previous federal election, 77 per cent of Nanaimoites who voted, 
voted for parties that support legalization," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom