Pubdate: Sat, 21 Jan 2017
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Gordon Kent
Page: A3


Owner joins provincial pot advisory group

One of the operators of an Edmonton storefront cannabis dispensary says he
has joined an industry legalization committee after charges laid in a
police raid were dropped.

Aaron Bott, his brother Colin Bott and his mother and stepfather, Janice
and Bob Cyre, were charged with possession of marijuana for the purpose of
trafficking and production of a controlled substance when their non-profit
"compassion club" was busted in July 2015.

The Mobile Access Compassionate Resources Organization Society, or MACROS,
supplied cannabis products from a shop on 118 Avenue to more than 1,000
customers with Health Canada medical-marijuana licences or prescriptions
from a doctor.

But in December the last of the charges against the four people were
withdrawn by the prosecutor.

Instead, Hemperial Fidelis Ltd., which ran a hemp store in the building
and leased space to MACROS, pleaded guilty to possession of more than
three kilograms of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and was fined

"It gave me my freedom back," former chair Aaron Bott said Friday, adding
MACROS was Alberta's only storefront dispensary.

"I never looked at myself as a criminal ... I got into the cannabis
industry to help people."

He thinks the Crown dropped the individuals' charges to avoid a Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms challenge that would have argued the
medical pot system interferes with the ability of patients to obtain what
they need.

Health Canada currently licences 38 cannabis producers, which must ship
their products to customers. But Bott, 42, argues this isn't fair. "Even
though there's a legal source, not all Canadians can access that legal
source. There's cost, and if you don't have a fixed address you can't get
your medicine sent to you, because it has to move through the mail.
(Also), you have to have a credit card."

As well, producers can't sell the concentrated cannabis oil some people
want, Bott said.

A spokesperson for the federal drug prosecutors couldn't be reached for

Bott is now part of committee representing dispensaries, clinics, licensed
producers, consultants and other members of the cannabis industry aiming
to advise the provincial government on how to handle recreational and
medical sales once federal law is changed.

The group plans to hold several meetings and submit a report by April.

Bott also hopes to meet with Edmonton city officials to look at municipal
permits for local dispensaries, which are allowed in some Canadian
municipalities and shut down in others.

"I don't want to blindside them anymore. I want to work with them this time.

"I want to show them we did this for 12 years without any complaints."
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