Pubdate: Wed, 12 Apr 2017
Source: Ottawa Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Jacquie Miller
Page: 10


Pot shop sales staff confess to drug trafficking

The first two of 29 Ottawa pot shops clerks charged in police raids
have gone through the courts and received suspended sentences.

Budtenders Sarah Scott and Joshua Zvonar pleaded guilty Monday to one
count each of possession for the purpose of trafficking. They were
arrested last November in the first Ottawa police sweep against
illegal marijuana dispensaries, when six shops were raided in a single

Scott and Zvonar were initially charged with nine counts each of
possession for the purpose of trafficking and one count of possessing
the property proceeds of crime.

Their defence asked for a conditional discharge, which would mean they
would not have a criminal record.

However, the Crown argued a conviction was needed to deter others from
engaging in "blatant criminal activity," to make the public aware of
the consequences of working at an illegal dispensary, and to make it
more difficult for the illegal businesses to re-open, said Nathalie
Houle, spokesperson for the Public Prosecution Service of Canada.

The court imposed a criminal conviction with a suspended sentence and
12 months' probation for both budtenders, with the condition they not
possess any controlled drugs without a prescription.

The other budtenders charged in police raids are making their way
through the court system. All face similar charges, including multiple
counts of drug trafficking.

Dispensary workers across Canada have been charged as police crack
down on the illegal shops popping up in advance of the federal
government's promise to legalize recreational pot. In Toronto, the
Crown has thrown out charges against many of the budtenders while
proceeding with charges against owners and managers of the shops.

Police and Health Canada warn that the dispensaries carry products
from the black market that are unregulated and possibly unsafe.
Dispensary workers say they are providing a service for both medical
and recreational users, and that prosecuting them is a waste of money.

Scott and Zvonar worked at the Green Tree dispensary on Bank Street,
which closed after the November raid.

It was one of seven related shops set up by a B.C. outfit last summer
operating under the names Green Tree, WeeMedical and Cannagreen. All
were raided, but four reopened.

The number of dispensaries in Ottawa fluctuates, with some closing
after raids, robberies or landlord disputes, and new ones opening.
There are about 12 dispensaries in town now.

A new Cannagreen dispensary popped up about a week ago in the west end
in a strip mall on McEwen Avenue. It's a bare-bones room with a glass
case filled with dried bud and cannabis-laced gummy-worm candies, Rice
Krispie treats, cookies and pop.

The clerk there Tuesday declined to identify himself, the manager or
the owner, made a quick phone call, and said he'd been told the Sun
should leave the store.
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