Pubdate: Thu, 26 Nov 2015
Source: Nanaimo News Bulletin (CN BC)
Copyright: 2015, BC Newspaper Group
Author: Tamara Cunningham


Dispensaries Hope They'll Get a Reprieve

Police have taken no enforcement action against medical marijuana 
dispensaries since the deadline for storefronts to shut down passed 
last week, giving the Nanaimo Cannabis Coalition hope it's won a 
cooling-off period.

But the Nanaimo RCMP never said enforcement would come on day eight 
or nine, says Supt. Mark Fisher.

Ten medical marijuana dispensaries were given a seven-day deadline 
from the Nanaimo RCMP on Nov. 12 to shut down or face potential 
enforcement, including arrests of employees and patrons on site.

While some dispensaries did close storefronts temporarily last week, 
coalition spokesman Matthew O'Donnell said they are currently open 
and there have been no raids. Members are still worried, however, 
about the threat of police action, according to O'Donnell, who hopes 
a cooling-off period has begun.

The coalition is now seeking government regulation and appeared at a 
council meeting Monday with Canadian Association of Medical Cannabis 
Dispensaries president Jamie Shaw to pitch the idea. Civic 
politicians made no move to look into regulating dispensaries as 
other communities, like Victoria and Port Alberni, have done.

Mayor Bill McKay called it an illegal activity and said regulating 
dispensaries won't shield them from the law. He sees licensing and 
regulation happening only after the federal government changes the rules.

"People seem to believe that if the city simply licensed them and 
regulates them from a land-use perspective that all of their problems 
will go away. Nothing could be further from the truth," he said.

Coun. Gord Fuller said council is in an information-gathering stage.

"There's just way too much to look at right now... Vancouver, 
Victoria and now Port Alberni are all looking at different options 
with dealing with the dispensaries and I think we're going to have to 
look at a Nanaimo option," he said.

The RCMP investigation into dispensaries is ongoing. Fisher told the 
News Bulletin enforcement became a priority as people brought forward 
concerns about what they saw in dispensaries.

While the detachment superintendent is listening to political views 
on the issue, he says he has to make a policing decision for the 
community at the end of the day and with information others may not 
be privy to. Action is also based on the laws of today.

The Nanaimo RCMP never said it was going to take action immediately 
with dispensaries.

"We said we are giving you ample opportunity to make a decision and 
we're letting you know we do view this as illegal activity and after 
the seven days you may very well be subject to some sort of 
enforcement action," he said. "That's exactly what the message said 
and that's still the way it stands."
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