Pubdate: Thu, 18 Aug 2016
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The London Free Press
Author: Dale Carruthers
Page: A1


A businessperson whose London pot shop was raided by police days after
opening is digging in for another battle with authorities. Police
swooped down on Tasty Budd's medical marijuana dispensary on
Whancliffe Road Wednesday, seizing its inventory and arresting two
men. The store had opened only six days earlier. Mal McMeekin, founder
of the Tasty Budd's franchise, which opened in defiance of the law, is
thumbing his nose at police, again.

"The plan is to reopen, for sure," McMeekin said from Halifax. "I feel
that it's an unnecessary use of taxpayers' money to raid something
where we're just helping people." McMeekin and business partner Tim
Balogh didn't consult London police before opening the shop last
Friday. It sells marijuana, hash oil and cannabis-infused edibles to
medicinal marijuana users. Though an estimated 350 pot dispensaries
operate across Canada, they 're illegal - despite the Liberal
government's pledge to liberalize Canada's pot laws - under a federal
law that limits the sale of marijuana to a few dozen producers
approved by Ottawa. Dispensary operators argue they provide a needed
service for people who use marijuana for medical reasons.

Nathan Lazda, who owns a duplex beside Tasty Budd's, said he watched
as more than a dozen police in tactical gear jumped out of black SUVs
and surrounded the shop Wednesday.

"They just kind of rushed in. I heard them yelling a bit," said Lazda.
Police stayed on the scene for about an hour and could be seen
carrying boxes out of the building, he said.

The raid was carried out shortly before noon, said police, who seized
an undisclosed amount of marijuana and edibles.

Two men arrested during the search remained in custody Wednesday, but
no charges have been laid, said Const. Kim Flett. Dan Flannery showed
up at the dispensary late Wednesday afternoon looking for information
on his son's whereabouts. Flannery said his son, Josh, 23, works at
Tasty Budd's and was reportedly seen being led away in handcuffs
earlier in the day. "From what I was told, everything is legitimate,"
Flannery said of the business.

"It's not like they're running it out of a back alley and trying to
sell it out of a van . . . I don't see why the police are harassing
them." McMeekin said Balogh, who bought the rights to the London
franchise, was the other man arrested.

"I don't think they should have a charge. What are they doing wrong?
They're giving medication to people that need it," said the Cole
Harbour, N.S., resident. McMeekin has five other Tasty Budd's
locations - four in Nova Scotia and one in New Brunswick - and said he
hasn't had any problems with police before. Toronto police have been
cracking down on dispensaries since May, seizing marijuana and laying
criminal charges. McMeekin wants London to follow the lead of
Vancouver, another city where pot shops have sprouted in anticipation
of relaxed laws, and where city officials are working to regulate the

"The city itself should put in rules and regulations to make sure it
doesn't get out of control, just like they did in B.C.," said McMeekin.
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