Pubdate: Sat, 11 Mar 2017
Source: London Free Press (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 The London Free Press
Author: Dale Carruthers,
Page: A3


The owners of three London pot shops are among eight people charged in
a crackdown on marijuana dispensaries.

But a critic said he doubts the charges announced Friday by London
police will hold up in court with Canada set to legalize the drug.

Five men and three women face a combined 24 counts of possession for
the purpose of trafficking following police searches of five marijuana
dispensaries across London on March 2.

Those charged include Mal McMeekin, 34, the Tasty Budd's franchise
founder; Kara Barber, 30, owner of Healing Health; and Charles Colvin,
28, chief executive of the Chronic Hub.

Police have issued an arrest warrant for McMeekin, a Halifax native
who travelled to London in August to open the Wharncliffe Road dispensary.

McMeekin, who couldn't be reached for comment Friday, wasn't charged
when police previously searched Tasty Budd's in the summer.

Authorities across the country stepped up their battle against
dispensaries this week.

Former Londoner Marc Emery and his wife, Jodie, were released on bail
Friday after they were arrested Wednesday at Toronto's Pearson
International Airport.

Police across the country launched a series of co-ordinated searches
Thursday of marijuana dispensaries linked to the Vancouver-based
marijuana advocates.

Police seized $250,000 in cash in several currencies after searching
seven Cannabis Culture stores and several homes.

Officers seized more than 65 kilograms of marijuana, 2.4 kg of
cannabis extract and other drug paraphernalia.

Authorities searched Cannabis Culture locations in Toronto, Hamilton,
Ottawa and Vancouver. By Friday, most of the shops had reopened.

Emery, 59, faces 15 charges, including conspiracy to commit an
indictable offence, trafficking, possession for the purpose of
trafficking and possession of proceeds of crime, while Jodie Emery,
32, is charged with five similar counts.

One leading lawyer for marijuana activists says the charges against
people swept up in recent searches won't stick in court.

"They'll most likely be dropped or stayed," Vancouver-based lawyer
Robert Laurie said.

"If the court system is already overstrained . . . dealing with
serious crimes, then I honestly think judges are going to be
scratching their heads and saying, 'Why is this in front of me?' "

Dispensaries are illegal under a federal law that limits the sale of
marijuana for medicinal use to a few dozen government-approved
commercial producers.

Hundreds of pot shops have sprouted in Canadian cities since the
federal Liberals swept to power in 2015 with a vow to bring in
legislation this spring to legalize recreational marijuana use and
regulate its sale.
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