Pubdate: Fri, 26 Aug 2016
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 The London Free Press
Author: Dale Carruthers
Page: A1


London outlet reopens to enforcement warnings from police, city

Be warned.

And if the cops don't move in, London's bylaw boss just

A London pot dispensary that reopened Thursday, a week after officers
raided it, has suddenly found itself in the cross-hairs of not one,
but two authorities bent on enforcing the rules in an industry -
marijuana - that's become hazy under the Trudeau government's vow to
legalize pot.

Police reportedly delivered their warning Thursday to Tasty Budd's,
with staff there saying two plainclothed officers told them the city's
police chief won't tolerate an illegal pot shop in the city. The
flashy store had publicly opened in defiance of the law before last
week's raid.

"They (police) came to deliver a message and take advantage of our
open-door policy," said Jordan Johnson, Tasty Budd's regional manager.

The showdown over the dispensary, which has made no secret of its
business and was raided even though two other below-radar operations
in London have been left alone, escalated again Thursday with the city
's chief bylaw enforcement officer, Orest Katolyk, vowing to send
enforcement officers to make sure the store follows city rules. That
includes a food licence for any pot-laced edibles it might sell.

Tasty Budd's franchise owner Mal McMeekin publicly vowed to reopen
after the first crackdown, sending three company representatives to
London this week.

Tight-lipped police wouldn't answer questions about the alleged
warning to the dispensary.

"We are not going to confirm at this time whether police attended,"
said Const. Melissa Kasper. "And we're not going to comment on an
ongoing investigation, either."

The shop, part of an East Coast franchise with five other locations,
opened Aug. 12, selling marijuana, hash oil and cannabis-infused
edibles to medicinal users.

Those edibles - including peanut butter cups, cookies and brownies -
caught the attention of Katolyk, who said his staff will visit the
shop soon.

"If any business is in the process of selling food product, then they
need a food shop licence," he said, explaining that requires
inspections by the fire department and the public health unit.

Katolyk said his office hasn't received complaints about Tasty Budd's.
"We address the business licensing bylaw proactively," he said.

While acknowledging the dispensary sold edibles during the six days it
was open before the raid, Johnson said they 'll no longer offer the
treats to avoid problems. The store also painted over the words
"medical dispensary" on its signs.

While police focus their attention on London's newest dispensary, two
other low-key ones continue to operate in the city.

London deputy police chief Daryl Longworth wouldn't comment when asked
last week whether police are investigating The London Compassion
Society or Healing Health Compassion.

Federal opposition critics say the flurry of dispensaries popping up
across Canada - there are an estimated 350 - is the result of the
federal Liberal government dragging out delivering its election
promise to liberalize pot laws.

The government has said it will introduce legislation to legalize pot
next spring, but in many cities pot shops have already mushroomed.

Dispensaries are illegal in Canada under a federal law that limits
sale of pot for medicinal use to a few dozen federally-approved
commercial producers. The former Conservative government switched to
that system from one that allowed approved users to grow their own

But dispensary operators insist they're not breaking the law, citing a
2014 federal court decision that said forcing patients to buy their
prescription pot from government-approved producers violated their
constitutional rights.

Health Canada rolled out new rules, which took effect Wednesday,
letting authorized patients grow their own pot for personal use or
designate someone to grow for them. The Grits appointed former Toronto
police chief Bill Blair, now a Scarborough MP, as point man on changes
to the pot law. Blair's office didn't respond to an interview request
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt