Pubdate: Thu, 09 Mar 2017
Source: Ladysmith Chronicle (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 BC Newspaper Group & New Media
Author: Mike Gregory


A Chemainus dispensary reopened less than 48 hours after North
Cowichan/Duncan RCMP raided three cannabis retailers in North Cowichan
late Friday morning.

Officers entered Leaf Compassion and Green Aura in Chemainus with a
warrant at around 11 p.m. on Friday and were still on scene in the
early hours of the evening.

"They went ahead and arrested all of our staff that were on site and
began their search and seizure," said Leaf Compassion's regional
manager Justin Gurinskas outside the store just minutes after owner
Kyle Cheyne was arrested and taken into custody.

Green Tea Medical Dispensary, located in Duncan but part of the North
Cowichan municipality, was also raided on Thursday.

But that didn't stop Cheyne, who also has Leaf Compassion locations
across the island, including Victoria and Port Alberni, from reopening
in Chemainus on Sunday morning.

"We'll literally keep fighting this until it goes to the Supreme Court
of Canada," he said. "We have too many people, especially seniors, who
are pushing us for the access to feel better."

Cheyne requires medical marijuana due to cysts he developed first as a

Both Green Aura and Leaf Compassion have been fined $200 twice by the
Municipality of the North Cowichan in recent months for not holding a
business licence.

North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure said it can take significant staff
time and resources to be able to issue a ticket.

"To serve a ticket we have to find the owner of the business," said
Lefebure, noting that the RCMP's actions are separate from those of
the municipality.

"Serving a ticket is not necessarily easy and takes time and that is a restriction on the ability of our bylaw officers."

The store front operations at dispensaries are also not licenced by
Health Canada.

According to the RCMP, investigators gathered evidence of possible
offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

"The RCMP is guided by the current legislation and the laws as they
exist in Canada. While there may be pending changes in the
legislation, until such time as this legislation has been passed and
new laws enacted, the RCMP will enforce the laws of Canada as they
exist today says Insp. Ray Carfantan, officer in charge of North
Cowichan/Duncan RCMP.

"The North Cowichan/Duncan Detachment engages in ongoing consultation
with the community to ensure that the priorities of the community are
reflected in the policing priorities for the Detachment. Our community
priorities are in alignment with the priorities for both Canada and
the Province of British Columbia."

In total, at least four staff from Leaf Compassion as well as the
co-owners of Green Aura, Cody Aginas and Trevor Pewarchuk, were
arrested and have charges pending.

Aginas said all of the cannabis was seized from their store, as well
as a computer and other hemp products.

"We do have plans to reopen in the very short term. It won't be myself
but there will be representatives of Green Aura," Aginas said. "We
were there to help people and the municipality is being unjust to not
offer this help and support to their community."

The investigation remains ongoing and "marijuana, marijuana
derivatives and evidence of sales were seized," the RCMP said.

Employees at both Chemainus dispensaries have started online campaigns
to raise funds for legal fees.

"We've spoken to our legal counsel and they're pretty confident that
the charges will be dropped," Aginas said.

The raids come within hours of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited
Vancouver Island last week and reinforced that marijuana dispensaries
are illegal.

Cheyne said he doesn't plan on being "intimidated" despite the RCMP
sending a letter to the building's owner threatening to take
possession if things continue.

"They guaranteed me that they're going to continue to attack me and I
guaranteed them that I wasn't going to stop either," he said. "At the
end of the day we just need to care."
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