Pubdate: Sat, 05 Nov 2016
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jacquie Miller
Page: A2


Targeted outlets run by a B.C.-based outfit that moved into city in

Ottawa police raided six marijuana dispensaries Friday morning,
closing a big chunk of the city's pot shops in one fell swoop.

It's the first police action against the dispensaries that have been
popping up in Ottawa, and is bound to ratchet up the heated debate
over what to do about the illegal shops.

Teams of police officers, some in black balaclavas, descended on six
dispensaries shortly after 10 a.m. and emerged with plastic bags
stuffed with jars of dried weed and cannabis cookies, candy and pop. A
search warrant on a seventh dispensary, which had already closed due
to an eviction, was executed Thursday.

The targeted shops are operated by a B.C.-based outfit that moved into
Ottawa this summer, opening dispensaries called Green Tree, WeeMedical
and CannaGreen.

Police arrested nine store employees. They will face charges that
include possession for the purpose of trafficking and possession of
proceeds of crime. Some of the customers in the shops when police
arrived were questioned and released.

Police said they seized dried marijuana, hash, hash oil, THC
concentrate (shatter), cannabis-laced edibles and cash.

Ottawa police Chief Charles Bordeleau said he hopes the raids will
serve as a warning. "We're hopeful that today will send a clear
message that the police service and our community do not want these
locations because they are illegal and there may be consequences from
an investigative perspective that they should be put on notice."

The police investigation showed that the raided shops were not selling
only to licensed medical marijuana users, he said. Police continue to
investigate the other shops, he said. There are still about 10
dispensaries in Ottawa.

Police employ other tactics against the dispensaries, too, such as
intercepting marijuana deliveries and "drop-ins" by officers, said
Bordeleau. Police have also sent letters to landlords of dispensaries
warning them about the consequences of allowing illegal activities on
their properties. One landlord evicted a CannaGreen dispensary on
Roydon Place earlier this week.

The chief rejected the suggestion that police haven't been quick
enough to act, saying investigations take time. The first dispensary
opened in Ottawa a year ago, but most have popped up since the summer.

The raids were without incident. Employees were handcuffed and taken
into custody. Police videotaped inside the stores, bagged up the
merchandise and hauled it away in cardboard boxes and plastic cartons.
They removed the ATMs in stores.

Police have faced pressure from some residents and city councillors to
close the shops. But other Ottawans support the dispensaries or
believe it's a waste of money to close them since the federal
government has promised to legalize recreational pot.

Reaction to the raids reflected both views.

A customer who arrived at the CannaGreen Dispensary in Orleans as it
was being raided said he uses marijuana to control his multiple
sclerosis symptoms. Her sister uses it to control the pain of her
Stage 4 breast cancer instead of morphine.

"Morphine is so addictive," said the 50-year-old man, who didn't want
to give his name. "What's the worst that can happen with marijuana?
You wake up surrounded by Mars bars wrappers."

The man said he used CannaGreen's edible products and found the shop
clean and professional. "What am I going to do now?"

The shop opened on St. Joseph Boulevard this fall to a chorus of
complaints from parents whose children attend the Kumon tutoring
school and The Edge Taekwon-do Academy that are housed in the same
building. Some parents said they didn't want their children exposed to
a pot shop. Others were concerned about people driving too fast or
smoking pot in the parking lot shared by all tenants in the building.
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