Pubdate: Thu, 02 Mar 2017
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Jacquie Miller
Page: 6


Charged pot shop workers protest against raids

Sherry Morrison blames herself for her daughter's arrest on drug
trafficking charges.

Morrison says her daughter was inspired to become a cannabis activist
after she saw first-hand how medical marijuana helped her mom cope
with chronic pain.

The Morrisons, along with a handful of others, protested outside the
Ottawa courthouse on Wednesday, calling on the federal government to
move quickly to legalize recreational pot and in the meantime to stop
arresting people on marijuana-related charges.

Sherry's son Taryn Morrison, 25, carried a placard reading "Let us Be
Free." He just got a job at Ottawa's newest pot shop, Cannabis Culture
on Bank Street, which opened last week.

"I felt like, why not join the movement?" said Taryn, a recreational

He switched in the past year from heavy drinking to just smoking pot,
and says he's much calmer. "With alcohol, I was always fighting all
the time, in and out of jail. With weed, it's been a total turnaround.
I'm calmer, more relaxed.

"And the medical side is also beautiful."

The Morrisons aren't concerned about the quality or safety of the
cannabis sold at illegal dispensaries. Most of the dried weed, oils
and edible products are from illicit growers and bakers in B.C. The
federal government warns the products are unregulated and may be unsafe.

Taryn said he's more scared about buying weed from sketchy street
dealers "pushing out the dime sacks" or from people in unfamiliar houses.

"When I walk into a dispensary I don't have to deal with a criminal
and bunch of his criminal friends in a house, sitting around smoking.
It's a nice, clean, safe environment."

Two other budtenders arrested in pot shop raids also joined the
protest. Another was inside the courthouse making an appearance.

"I don't know how it's going to go with us," said a 21-year-old woman
who was arrested at a raid of 613 Medicinals on Montreal Road in
December. She was working part-time at the shop while finishing high

"I've heard, just from people talking, that they may drop the charges.
I'll probably just get a fine."

She said she hopes to go to college next year for horticulture and
eventually have a career growing cannabis. "I support legalization of
marijuana and freedom of choice."

Ottawa police have refused to release the names of the 19 people
charged in the 11 raids conducted so far, saying it would interfere
with their drug investigations.

But the Sun has identified and traced the court records of seven of
the budtenders, and no charges have been dropped.

Ottawa police have said they consulted with the Public Prosecution
Service of Canada, the agency responsible for prosecuting drug crimes,
to make sure charges could be viable before any raids were conducted.
They also issued warnings that the dispensaries were illegal and drug
laws could be enforced.

There are about 15 dispensaries in Ottawa, and their operations vary

At a shop tucked into an industrial mall on Canotek Road in
Gloucester, owner-operator Charlie Cloutier says he only sells
"award-winning, quality products" to people who have a doctor's note
proving they need medical marijuana, or who are already signed up to
buy it legally from a Health-Canada licensed producer.

"I am very worried about police raids. I've got a family, I've got
children. But I feel strongly about this."

The store is a franchise of the Victoria-based Beard Brothers Society,
but Cloutier says he plans to change the name and run it independently
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