Pubdate: Sat, 23 Jul 2016
Source: Hamilton Spectator (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The Hamilton Spectator
Authors: Matthew Van Dongen & Natalie Paddon
Page: A3


Owner says he'll plead not guilty to three trafficking

A downtown marijuana dispensary was raided by police Thursday, but was
open again Friday.

Brighter Moments Dispensary set up shop on King Street East near
Ferguson Avenue last September offering to sell medical marijuana
products exclusively to patients with prescriptions.

The dispensary had operated "without incident" for several months
until eight police officers with a warrant searched the facility
around 2 p.m., said Cory Kaus, who identified himself as a patient and
volunteer operator.

The Spectator was not able to reach Hamilton police about the search
Friday afternoon. No press release was issued.

Luke Williams, the dispensary owner, said he faces three trafficking
charges - possession for the purpose of trafficking 3 kilograms or
less of marijuana, marijuana resin and "marijuana other." He plans to
plead not guilty.

"If they run us out of town, we'll hire delivery drivers."

The warrant, of which the shop has a copy, was used to seize what Kaus
estimated to be about $50,000 worth of marijuana-related products,
including edibles and cannabis-infused teas and pops.

Williams said police left behind the dispensary's hard drives, camera
footage and patient files.

"There was no warning, no letters. They just came in and seized most
of our product," Kaus said.

"We're a little upset because we've always had an open-door policy
with police. We've had visits before without incident … So we're
trying to figure out what changed."

Right now, it is not legal to sell medical marijuana outside existing
federal regulations, which require patients to buy from designated
producers who deliver exclusively by mail.

But the courts struck down those regulations as unconstitutional and
gave the government until this August to draft new rules. In the
meantime, a new federal Liberal government has also promised to
introduce legislation to legalize and regulate pot for recreational
purposes next year.

"In the meantime, everyone is operating in a grey area," Kaus said.
"We're just trying to provide help to patients with genuine medical
conditions. We're not selling for recreational purposes."

Kaus said the dispensary sells medical marijuana exclusively to about
800 patients with prescriptions - although if someone doesn't have
such a document, volunteers will help them connect with a doctor.

He said on compassionate grounds, they would consider providing
"limited, small amounts" of medical marijuana during a typical
month-long process to obtain a prescription.

Toronto police caused an uproar in May by raiding dozens of
dispensaries that have popped up in that city in the legal vacuum that
now surrounds medical marijuana.

Until now, Hamilton hadn't seen a similar crackdown.

Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders argued the unregulated dispensaries
represented a health risk and noted the facilities, some located near
schools, had spurred huge numbers of community complaints.

Kaus questioned why police raided the dispensary just a month or two
before the government is to clarify rules around the sale and
production of medical marijuana.
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