Pubdate: Sat, 17 Dec 2016
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Copyright: 2016 Postmedia Network Inc.
Authors: Christopher Curtis, John Meagher, and Aaron Derfel
Page: A8


Police seize 18 kg of marijuana, confiscate cash and

Montreal police arrested Canada's self-proclaimed "Prince of Pot"
Friday night and seized 18 kilograms of cannabis a day after the
splashy opening of six illegal marijuana dispensaries across the city.

Dozens of officers raided the stores at supper hour, arresting 10
people and confiscating an undisclosed amount of cash and equipment
relating to the sale of marijuana. Police would neither confirm nor
deny that they nabbed Marc Emery, but his wife Jodie posted a video of
him being taken away.

Commander Stephen Verissimo, of the Montreal North division, told
journalists at police headquarters that the force wanted to send a
message to the public.

"The message that we want to impart is that the possession and
trafficking of marijuana is currently illegal, and the police
department will enforce the law that's in effect," Verissimo said.

"Whether one has a (store) permit or not, that changes absolutely

Verissimo added that police had received complaints about the Cannabis
Culture dispensaries, which had attracted long lineups despite frigid

Jodie Emery tweeted after the raids that she would organize a protest

Earlier in the day, tensions had been building at the dispensary on
Mont-Royal Ave., as rumours of an imminent raid circulated.

Sources told the Montreal Gazette that undercover officers began a
surveillance operation on the shop as of Thursday night - just hours
after its highly publicized opening.

The dispensary began selling a variety of pot strains to customers
that afternoon during the rollout of six stores in Montreal.

Just hours before his arrest, Emery predicted that he would be

"They would be hard-pressed not to arrest me," he said when asked how
a raid usually goes down. "But you know that's all part of the plan.
That's part of the revolution. You're not going to get change without

Emery threatened to go on a hunger strike if sent to prison. Asked if
he really thought he'd be locked up, Emery responded: "Absolutely. I
want to demonstrate that's exactly what's going to happen. That's what
legalization under Mr. Trudeau and (Montreal Mayor Denis) Coderre looks 

"They'll tolerate gangs, and Rock Machine and Hells Angels, everybody
else, but they won't tolerate ordinary Canadians helping other
ordinary Canadians access the best marijuana in the world," Emery added.

On Thursday, Coderre warned there would be "zero tolerance" for the
illegal storefronts. Police have raided Cannabis Culture locations in
Toronto, Hamilton and Port Coquitlam, B.C. this year, but many
reopened within days.

The Liberal government has appointed a task force to study how it will
fulfil Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's promise to legalize marijuana.
But during a press conference in Montreal Friday, Trudeau emphasized
that until new legislation is passed, the laws prohibiting the sale of
marijuana stand.

Emery, who was on hand at the Mont-Royal Ave. location for the opening
Thursday, had acknowledged that the business was illegal. He said then
that it's only by breaking an "unjust law" that Canadians will force
the government to legalize marijuana.

"Quebec is one of two provinces I have not been arrested in," Emery
told reporters then. "I've been locked up in eight provinces ... so,
you know, there's always room for No. 9. I've been arrested 28 times
in Canada for marijuana and I've seen 34 prisons and jails in all that
time. And yet even after 26 years of this kind of civil disobedience,
the law still exists."

The raid on Mont-Royal drew curious onlookers and supporters of Emery.
One of them was 26-year-old Kevin Keri, who smoked a joint in front of
an officer who was standing guard behind a plate-glass window.

"I don't understand the contradiction," Keri said. "He obtained a
permit from the city to open the stores, and now the police are
closing them."

Long lines started forming outside the shop Thursday on Mont-Royal as
Emery gave an impassioned speech about Canada's drug law and handed
out free "nuggets" of marijuana.

He framed the opening of his dispensaries as a massive act of civil

People continued flocking to the dispensary late Friday afternoon,
forming a line that went out the door and around the building. An
employee at a nearby bar said the arrival of a Cannabis Culture shop
created a buzz in the east-end neighbourhood.

However, the employee noted that older patrons were less enthused than
younger ones about the idea of a pot business sprouting up.

Jodie Emery said the big turnout was an indication pot stores should
be allowed to operate.

"If thousands of people are braving minus 30 degree weather to line up
for hours to access cannabis in this way, it should be a very strong
argument that these businesses are legitimate, are popular, are
successful and should be allowed to operate."
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