Pubdate: Thu, 19 Jan 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Katie DeRosa
Page: A1


Victoria police have seized cash that was heading to a Victoria cannabis
bakery, after someone smelled marijuana coming from a piece of luggage on
a Helijet flight - a sign of the marijuana industry's reliance on cash.

It was the second time in a week that suspected marijuana raised alarms on
a Helijet flight. In the first case, police seized 30 pounds of marijuana.

Officers arrived at Helijet's Dallas Road terminal Tuesday night "after it
was reported that there was a strong smell of marijuana coming from a
package," said Victoria police spokesman Const. Matt Rutherford. No
marijuana was found but an undisclosed quantity of cash was seized,
because "the package where the money was found previously contained

Police are still investigating the source of the money, but the Times
Colonist has confirmed it was destined for Baked Edibles, which bills
itself as the longest running medical cannabis bakery in Canada.

Ted Smith, founder of Cannabis Buyers Club, which does business with the
bakery, said the person carrying the cash was doing a legitimate business
transaction after selling cannabis oil to a dispensary in Vancouver.

Police were also called to the Helijet terminal on Jan. 10 on a marijuana
complaint. Officers seized 30 pounds of marijuana and arrested three
people, Rutherford said. Two people were released without charge and one
person was released with a promise to appear in court on charges of
possession for the purpose of trafficking. That case has not been linked
to any marijuana dispensary.

Troy MacDonald, Helijet's director of sales, said he could not give
further details or confirm who raised alarms about the marijuana in either
instance. "It's not really our staff, we're getting things pointed out to
us," he said.

MacDonald said it's "very rare" for marijuana to be discovered on Helijet

In terms of the cash seized from the cannabis bakery, Smith said it
highlights a major problem facing marijuana dispensaries in Victoria: They
can operate within city guidelines but banks are reluctant to give these
businesses an account. As a result, the businesses accept only cash.

"This really comes to the issue of banking," Smith said. "We're getting a
licence from the city but it's very hard to get a bank account and do
business as a normal taxpaying organization."

He said this puts staff members at risk of robbery or suspicion from
police. "We would much prefer to do it the safe, legal way, but we have to
do this clandestine - big piles of cash travelling around and it's very

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau supports marijuana legalization but in
December told the Toronto Star that he expects police in that city to
"enforce the law" and criminally charge illegal marijuana dispensaries.

On Tuesday, West Shore RCMP did just that, shutting down Green Tree
dispensary a day after it opened on Granderson Road in Langford, steps
from the RCMP detachment.

Langford Mayor Stew Young has called on the federal government to quickly
set down a legal framework so municipalities can regulate marijuana

Just looking at some of the claims made by marijuana businesses
underscores the regulatory confusion.

Baked Edibles claims to be "the only edibles production facility inspected
and approved by a provincially sanctioned regional health authority."

However, City of Victoria spokeswoman Rebecca Penz said Baked Edibles has
not been approved by Island Health and as such, does not have a city
business licence.

No one from Baked Edibles returned calls for comment on Wednesday.

The bakery says on its website that it is "operating legally with thanks
to the successful defense of the critical R v. Smith Supreme Court ruling
by ... Owen Smith of the Victoria Cannabis Buyer's Club," a ruling that
affirmed the legal right to possess cannabis oils and derivatives for
medical purposes.

The case stems from Owen Smith's 2009 arrest by Victoria police after
officers seized more than 200 pot cookies, cannabis infused oils and other
products being produced for the Cannabis Buyers Club in Victoria.

Smith, the club's former head baker, was eventually acquitted.
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