Pubdate: Thu, 26 Jan 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Katie DeRosa
Page: A1


Three at marijuana dispensary arrested and released without

Victoria police raided a medical marijuana dispensary on Wednesday,
two weeks after the shop's owner was arrested with 30 pounds of
marijuana at Victoria's Helijet terminal.

Police arrived at Remedy Medicinals at 833 Fisgard St. before 7 a.m.
and were waiting for staff to open the doors. Three people were
arrested and released without charge, said Victoria police spokesman
Const. Matt Rutherford.

Officers were in the shop until just before 4 p.m., when they came out
with dozens of brown paper evidence bags. Police did not say whether
marijuana was seized.

The department confirmed the raid is linked to the 30 pounds of
marijuana that was seized from a Helijet flight on Jan. 10. One person
was arrested and released on a promise to appear in court on charges
of possession for the purpose of trafficking.

The Times Colonist has confirmed that person was store co-owner Omar

David Kendall said he owns half the business and Manji is his business

"We were partners on this and he went to buy me out 10 months ago, but
he never paid me," he said. Kendall said he intends to have the
business up and running again soon.

The store has been the subject of complaints from neighbouring
business owners and residents.

Elizabeth Belfry owns Calm Massage Therapy next door and said some of
her clients have not felt comfortable coming for treatment because of
the business.

"I've been against it knowing that it has not been properly approved
federally; even if our city is creating loopholes for it to happen,
[the business] hasn't gone about in the correct way," Belfry said.
"It's frustrating. We all pay our own business licences and we all
follow the rules, and it's unfair that they can operate without that."

The business is not licensed by the City of Victoria and has not
submitted a rezoning application, which is required under the city's
bylaws for marijuana-related businesses.

"This is not run responsibly," said a neighbouring business owner who
did not want to be named. "The entire block has petitioned against the
way they run their business."

Several prospective customers came by during the day to purchase
marijuana but found the front door locked and the windows covered.

Kevin Abbott, who has been a customer since the business opened in
December 2015, said he was "shocked" to learn of the raid since the
operation always seemed professional.

Victoria police investigators "have noted that Health Canada has not
licensed this storefront for sales," Rutherford said.

Rutherford said the search warrant does not represent a change in the
department's approach to marijuana storefronts, which has been to
avoid criminal prosecution in light of the city's regulatory regime.
There are about 35 medical marijuana businesses in Victoria.

Trafficking of marijuana is illegal and "VicPD will continue to be
responsive to the public interest by prioritizing any enforcement
action based on sales to or consumption by youth, violence, serious
disruption to the community and any evidence of organized crime
activity," Rutherford said.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she could not comment on the raid
because it's a police matter, not a bylaw issue.

Victoria police were called to the Helijet terminal twice in the span
of a week after the smell of marijuana was reported to be coming from

On Jan. 10, officers seized the 30 pounds of marijuana, with a retail
value of more than $100,000.

On Jan. 17, police seized cash that was headed for Baked Edibles in
Victoria after the store sold some of its cannabis products to a
dispensary in Vancouver. No charges have been laid in that incident,
but the seizure underlined the marijuana industry's reliance on cash,
since many banks will not allow business accounts for pot shops.

Last week, West Shore RCMP shut down Green Tree medical marijuana shop
in Langford a day after it opened. Langford Mayor Stew Young said he
would not tolerate marijuana businesses in his municipality until
federal regulations clear up the murky legal landscape.
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MAP posted-by: Matt