Pubdate: Tue, 14 Feb 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Authors: Michael D. Reid and Katie DeRosa
Page: A1


Langford Mayor Stew Young says he's madder than hell that the
municipality's first and only pot shop reopened on the weekend.

"I am not going to turn a blind eye to something illegal," said Young,
reacting to news that Green Tree Medical Dispensary is up and running.
The store, at 108-688 Granderson Rd., had been shut down by West Shore
RCMP on Jan. 17, the day after it opened.

"It is still illegal and the police will do their job, but the federal
government better get its act together, because I'm fed up with the
top politicians in the country saying we're going to legalize pot and
it's turned into a free-for-all in the meantime," said Young, adding
it's up to West Shore RCMP to take action. "I will never go to a
policeman and say: 'Do not uphold the law.' "

A spokesman for West Shore RCMP said on Saturday that police were
aware Green Tree, operating without a business licence, had reopened
and they were investigating.

Employee Harley Thompson told the Times Colonist that RCMP officers
arrived at the store on Saturday, but he locked the doors and asked if
they had a warrant. The officers said they would be back with one, but
as of Monday, no officers had returned.

On Jan. 17, West Shore RCMP seized marijuana from the shop but no
charges have been laid. Thompson said employees working that day
didn't know to ask for a warrant.

West Shore RCMP said in a statement at the time that investigators
conducted a compliance check before shutting down the store. The
detachment said it's illegal for medicinal marijuana dispensaries or
compassion clubs to sell marijuana to the public, regardless of
whether customers have medical licences to possess marijuana or the
vendor has a licence to produce.

"Businesses and/or individuals operating in contravention of the CDSA
and Health Canada regulations may be subject to investigation and
criminal charges in accordance with Canadian laws," said West Shore
RCMP spokesman Const. Alex Berube.

Berube said officers observed evidence of possible offences under the
Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Customers who previously had to drive to Victoria or Sooke to buy from
a marijuana dispensary have told Thompson they're happy the store has
reopened. People who use marijuana to treat their illnesses "really
need a place like this to be open. They're relying on it."

Thompson said the store is prepared to pay the $200-a-day fine for
operating without a business licence. "We're paving a path for
Langford," he said.

That's a path Young is trying to block. He has told a dozen applicants
for marijuana storefronts that Langford will not consider granting
business licences until federal legislation is in place.

"You can't say this is an election promise and then just do nothing,"
said Young, referring to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's promise to
eventually legalize and regulate non-medical cannabis use.

Since there still is no solid plan in place, it's making life
difficult for municipal politicians, bylaw enforcers and police, said
Young. "With no regulations in place, they're creating a big problem."

He said it is absurd that, while Health Canada regulates production of
medical marijuana for sale by mail, there are no regulations for stores.

"What knowledge [about medical marijuana] does some guy setting up a
shop in Langford have?" he said. "Licensed producers are not supplying
these pot shops. There are no licensing agreements yet."

He said "the feds could solve this in one month" if pharmacies were
permitted to sell medical marijuana from licensed producers approved
by Health Canada.

"It should be distributed through a doctor or a pharmacy," added
Young, who said he has no trouble with the concept of decriminalizing
marijuana. "We just don't know where these guys are getting their
marijuana. It could even be from organized crime, for all we know."

Jonathan Henriksen, who operates the online Medical Marijuana
Dispensaries Vancouver Island directory, said he learned through his
Facebook page that the Langford dispensary had reopened. "I always
thought Stew was more progressive than that. I guess he's not,"
Henriksen said of Young's stance.

It didn't surprise him that the dispensary, which has sister locations
in Nanaimo and Duncan, was back in business. "That's what they do," he
said. "Once they get busted, they reopen."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt