Pubdate: Thu, 23 Feb 2017
Source: Expositor, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Brantford Expositor
Author: Vincent Ball
Page: A1


Cannabis Culture outlet had opened on Colborne Street West on

The legalized pot debate erupted in Brantford on Wednesday after the
arrest of the owner of the newly opened Cannabis Culture store on
Colborne Street West.

Police said that a 35-year-old Stoney Creek man is charged with
possession for the purpose of trafficking. He was arrested Tuesday
night after the police street crimes unit said it determined marijuana
was being sold to customers without medical marijuana licences.

Police closed the business on Wednesday while they awaited a search
warrant. The arrest and the subsequent "holding " of the building by
police attracted a handful of protesters advocating for the
legalization of marijuana.

The Cannabis Culture chain is a creation of Marc and Jodie Emery, two
of Canada's best known crusaders for the legalization of marijuana.

Marc Emery was at the Brantford location on Wednesday.

"I was supposed to be here to greet people at the door and shake hands
when it opened," said Emery, who spent five years in a United States
prison for selling mail-order cannabis seeds.

About 20 Cannabis Culture stores have opened across

Emery said that the stores create jobs and boost the local

The Brantford store did a lot of business when it opened for the Marc
Emery first time Sunday, he said.

Emery, like a lot of the people who showed up to protest the actions
by police Wednesday, recorded everything that was said, as well as
what was going on at the scene. There were, at times, as many as five
cruisers and a half-dozen officers there Wednesday.

Yellow police tape was placed around the front entrance.

"We are a peace-loving honest lifestyle at Cannabis Culture," Emery
said in a statement to The Expositor.

"We need an apology, we need respect we need an acknowledgement that
this is all wrong. Stop the arrests now."

The mission statement of Cannabis Culture is to provide a safe space
for cannabis consumers.

Emery has said his goal is to open 200 stores across the country this

Dave 'Smitty' Smith, who grew up in Brantford but now lives in
Waterford, was one of the people protesting the police action on Wednesday.

"I was in that building and helping to clean it up," said Smith, who
carried a sign that read: "Cannabis Saves Lives." We are a
peace-loving honest lifestyle at Cannabis Culture" "Now it's nice and
clean and operating as a business."

Erica Anderson, who lives near the store, said she was one of the
first customers on Sunday.

"It's great," she said. "It's nice and clean and the staff were
terrific to talk to, very knowledgeable.

"I'm used to ordering it online but I don't really like doing that
because it's expensive and they also charge for delivery.

"And I don't actually get to see the product when I'm ordering online
and have to trust that they're giving me what I ordered."

Anderson said she uses marijuana to help alleviate the pain associated
with a degenerative disc in her back.

She said that her online marijuana order costs her $165 for 15 grams,
plus $25 for delivery. At Cannabis Culture, she said that her order
cost $100.

Anderson was at the store briefly on Wednesday to show support. While
there she admonished a protester for yelling at police.

"That doesn't do any good," she said. "They're just doing their

"I know, but it feels good," said the protester, adding that advocates
for legalized marijuana are passionate about their cause and get
frustrated by arrests.

West Brant resident Becky Robertson said the store provides a clean,
friendly and informative environment. She said that she uses marijuana
for health reasons, including anxiety and insomnia.

"I don't see this as being any threat to the neighbourhood," she

Questions about medical marijuana dispensaries in Brantford were
raised last May by Mayor Chris Friel.

"These dispensaries will be coming fast and furious and municipalities
need to be able to step up," Friel said at the time.

Councillors passed a resolution calling for city staff to look at
options for the creation of a bylaw to regulate both the operation and
location of retail businesses that sell marijuana for medical and or
recreational purposes.

A staff report on dispensaries is due to come to city councillors for
discussion in March or April, a spokesperson for the city said.

The federal government has promised to introduce legislation this
spring to legalize recreational marijuana.
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