Pubdate: Mon, 08 Aug 2016
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The London Free Press
Author: Dale Carruthers
Page: A1


Unfazed by a recent police crackdown on illegal pot shops across
Canada, an East Coast entrepreneur planning London's first marijuana
dispensary insists he's ready to fire up for business.

And Mal McMeekin hasn't checked in with the London police,

"If somebody's opening a gas station, they don't go talk to police,"
the Cole Harbour, N.S., resident said.

McMeekin says his Tasty Budd's shop on Wharncliffe Road will open
Friday, selling marijuana, hash oil and cannabis-infused edibles to
medicinal users.

While an estimated 350 dispensaries have popped up across Canada, the
businesses are illegal - even with the Trudeau government planning to
liberalize Canada's pot laws - under a federal law that now limits the
sale of marijuana to a few dozen government-approved producers.

But McMeekin disagrees, saying he's providing a service not covered
under the existing system.

"We are a business that's helping the medical community," he said.
"What we're doing is giving them direct access to their

Health Canada only allows prescription pot users to order their supply
by mail from approved sellers, or grow it at home in rare cases.

Tasty Budd's customers must present a valid prescription for medical
marijuana to the staff, who will verify it before issuing a membership
card allowing them to buy products from the store.

The shop offers 12 strains of marijuana, costing between $7 and $12 a
gram, on par with the street price of $10.

Unlike many big-city dispensaries, Tasty Budd's doesn't offer on-site
consultation with a doctor to assess patients for marijuana

Customers also aren't allowed to use any products in or near the

McMeekin, 34, said he was up front about the business with his
landlord, but hasn't consulted police.

"The reason why I haven't is because I feel that this is (a) 100 per
cent legitimate business," he said, adding he has a valid business
licence and issues customers receipts.

Const. Sandasha Bough confirmed London police are aware of the
dispensary and are looking into it.

"However, we can't get into any details about possible
investigations," she said.

In May, Toronto police raided dozens of dispensaries, laying hundreds
of charges, seizing nearly 1,000 kg of marijuana and $160,000 in cash.

At the time, police Chief Mark Saunders defended the raids, calling
them a response to an unregulated and illegal industry, not an attack
on the lawful production, distribution or purchase of marijuana for
medical purposes.

The raids came just months after the federal Liberal government
announced it will introduce legislation to legalize and regulate
marijuana next spring.

Tasty Budd's is the first dispensary in London.

In 2014, Dr. John Craven opened Options Clinics Canada, an east London
storefront service that assessed patients and issued authorizations
for medical marijuana. The Dundas Street store, where customers could
pick up their orders, closed less than a month later for unknown reasons.

Like other dispensaries, Tasty Budd's only accepts cash - there's an
ATM on site - because the businesses have been locked out of Canada's
banking system. The shop is outfitted with a dozen security cameras,
metal bars on the windows, controlled entry and a safe room.

With five other locations, four in Nova Scotia and one in New
Brunswick, McMeekin is looking west for expansion.

"We're just going full steam and we're trying to go right across the
country," he said.
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